Three Legal Issues Landlords Need to Consider in the UK

Owning and managing rental property is a lucrative business, even in times of relative economic crisis. Demand is high for rental properties, and will continue to be as first-time buyers struggle to find their feet on the property ladder. But becoming a landlord also introduces you to unique legal responsibilities, which you should take care to adhere to.

GDPR

There are various, wide-ranging responsibilities that a landlord has to their properties and tenants, but it is the obligation they have to their tenants in particular that can often cause the most issues. Where you might expect to be dealing primarily with the logistics of property management, you also have key administrative responsibilities, with particular regard to the safe handling of your tenants’ personal information.

GDPR law is relatively new, having been introduced as a way of democratising EU citizens’ control over their information. As a landlord, you are required to adhere to GDPR law in keeping your tenants’ information safe and secure – and maintaining transparency over your collection and handling of data.

The Tenancy Fees Act

The tenancy deposit serves more than one purpose and is an extremely useful provision. It locks budding tenants into their contract, ensuring that rental agreements are followed through with minimal disruption or fuss. Their primary function, of course, is as collateral against potential damage to the property or other costly breaches to the rental agreement in question.

However, there are cases in which a standard tenancy deposit will not cover the extent of the damage done. In these cases, the utility of landlord insurance is made abundantly clear. But rather than seek insurance alternatives to funding potential damage, some landlords make the mistake of increasing their deposit expectations – in so doing, breaking the law.

The Tenancy Fees Act stipulates that landlords can only charge from a pre-approved set of permitted payments. These payments include rent, utilities if bills are included in the rental agreement, and any costs arising from within the rental agreement – including deposits. 

However, deposits are capped at a value of five- or six weeks of rent, depending on the rental price of the property. Any deposits taken above this value are prohibited and could lead to an unlimited fine if attempted more than once.

Energy Efficiency

Landlords are also now responsible for ensuring that the properties under their ownership adhere to minimum energy efficiency standards, again with multiple purposes. The UK government is concerned with mitigating the nation’s impact on the global climate crisis and has instituted several sweeping changes to UK law that impose new expectations and controls on businesses and individuals alike.

Concerning landlords, this takes the form of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard. The standard states that domestic properties must have an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate that demonstrates an efficiency rating of E or higher. If a property has a rating lower than E, the landlord is legally bound to spend up to £3,500 on efficiency improvements to raise their EPC rating.

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