The intention of these notes is to provide a rough guide to the principal issues relevant to the letting of residential property.
All landlords must register with the local authority before letting out any property owned by them. This is to ascertain that the landlord is deemed to be a fit and proper person to let property. Once complete the local authority will issue a Landlord Registration number which must be referred to in the Tenancy Agreement.
The Landlord has to provide the tenant with various safety certificates which require to be obtained
before a property is let. These include:-
Gas safety certificate:
The Landlord must ensure that there is an annual Gas safety check on all pipework and appliances carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. The Landlord must keep certificates for at least 2 years.
The Landlord must ensure that an electrical safety inspection is carried out at least every five years consisting of an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) and Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) on appliances provided by the Landlord. The EICR must be completed by a suitably competent person.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC):
A valid EPC (not more than 10 years old) must be available unless the Tenant is renting a room with shared access to a kitchen, bathroom and living area.
In addition to these certificates the Landlord has responsibility for other safety matters. These include:-
Carbon monoxide detectors
A carbon monoxide detector must be fitted in each room that has a fixed carbon based fuel powered appliance (except for a cooker), eg a fire, heater or boiler.
The Landlord must ensure that mains-powered smoke alarms are installed in (i) the room which is frequently used by the occupants for general daytime living purposes and (ii) every circulation space such as hallways or landings, there must also be a heat alarm in the kitchen. All alarms should be interlinked.
The Landlord must keep in repair and in proper working order the installations in the Let Property for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating and water heating (with the exception of those installed by the Tenant or which the Tenant is entitled to remove).
Landlords should ensure that all upholstered furniture provided complies with the Furniture and
Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 as amended, as evidenced by the permanent labelling.
At the start of the tenancy and throughout, the Landlord must take reasonable steps to assess any risk from exposure to legionella to ensure the safety of the Tenant in the Let Property.
THE REPAIRING STANDARD GENERALLY
The Landlord is responsible for ensuring that the Let Property meets the Repairing Standard.
The Landlord must carry out a pre-tenancy check of the Let Property to identify work required to meet the Repairing Standard (described below) and notify the Tenant of any such work. The
Landlord also has a duty to repair and maintain the Let Property from the start date of the tenancy and throughout the tenancy. This includes a duty to make good any damage caused by doing this work. On becoming aware of a defect, the Landlord must complete the work within a reasonable time.
A privately rented Let Property must meet the Repairing Standard as follows:
The Let Property must be wind and water tight and in all other respects reasonably fit for people to live in.
The structure and exterior (including drains, gutters and external pipes) must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
Installations for supplying water, gas and electricity and for sanitation, space heating and heating water must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
Any fixtures, fittings and appliances that the Landlord provides under the tenancy must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
Any furnishings that the Landlord provides under the tenancy must be capable of being used safely for the purpose for which they are designed.
The Let Property must have a satisfactory way of detecting fires and for giving warning in the event of a fire or suspected fire.
The Let Property must have a satisfactory way of giving warning if there is a hazardous concentration of carbon monoxide gas.
The landlord will be responsible for buildings insurance and contents insurance for any items included in the let. If there is existing buildings and contents insurance the landlord should ensure that it will still apply while the property is let and check any special provisions that might then apply.
The tenant will be responsible for insuring his or her own belongings.
Most mortgages provide that the property should not be let without the lender’s consent. Special conditions may apply for the period of the let, including in some situations, a change in the interest rate applying.
This is now covered by The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of houses in Multiple Occupation) Order 2000. These regulations apply where there is a single house let to several individuals (3 or more qualifying persons). To fall into the ambit of the regulations the accommodation must be the principal residence of 3 or more people who are not members of the same family or of one or other of two families. The regulations also apply where a house is divided into a number of individual units.
Where there is a multiple occupancy a licensing scheme applies operated by the Planning Authority. The house must be licensed and the landlord must comply with regulations relating to fire safety, planning controls and facilities.
Anti-social behaviour notices
In certain circumstances landlords can now be held responsible for the anti-social behaviour of their tenants.
The taxes most commonly encountered in connection with letting are income tax, council tax and capital gains tax.
The landlord will be subject to income tax on rental income. For individuals all income from property is pooled together. There is no distinction in the treatment of furnished and unfurnished lets.
Various costs incurred in managing the rented property may be allowed as deductions from income
In most cases this is due by the tenant. The main exception would be student lets and multiple occupancy.
Capital Gains Tax
Property used for letting may be subject to capital gains tax when it is sold. The taxable gain is the difference in value between the sale price and the original cost, although various deductions and reliefs apply which can reduce the liability considerably.