DIY landlords warned on tenancies

Landlords who manage all aspects of tenancies on their own must be careful not to fall foul of the law, the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks has warned.

Those who compile tenancy agreements and other important documents independently and without professional guidance could be inadvertently breaking the law.

The AIIC draws attention to a study recently carried out by Direct Line which found that 58% of landlords who don’t use a letting agent use adapted tenancy agreements from either old agency contracts or a template they found online.

It also claimed that 13% of landlords have experienced disputes specifically arising from tenants’ rental contracts in the last two years and that one in ten landlords has no formal tenancy agreement in place with their tenants.

The AIIC points out that in light of all the new legislation and regulation that has been introduced into the Private Rented Sector (PRS) in recent years, DIY landlords cannot afford to take any chances or get things wrong.

Patricia Barber, chair of the AIIC, said:  “Providing and maintaining the correct documentation has become an increasingly important part of being a landlord.

“For very experienced landlords, handling all matters themselves can save time and money. But for those new to the game, seeking professional advice is essential.”

In the past year alone there have been wide-scale changes to the Section 21 evictions process and new energy efficiency regulations, as well as an obligation for landlords to install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms in all rented properties.

Just recently, the government has also issued updates to the rent arrears and increase forms that can be used by landlords.

What’s more, there are further energy efficiency regulations coming into force in the next few years and the AIIC predicts that if the PRS continues to grow at such a rapid rate, it is likely that more red tape will be introduced.

When it comes to inventories – one of the most important rental documents and Barber said it’s all about the detail.

“A detailed and professionally compiled inventory really could save a landlord money at the end of a tenancy.

“This one document – if assembled properly – can help landlords to instantly identify and compare the property’s condition at the beginning and end of a tenancy.”

Barber also reminds landlords and letting agents that it is vitally important for tenants to sign the inventory at the start of the tenancy and that it can be beneficial to encourage tenants to attend check-out at the end of a tenancy.