Letting agents will be pleased to hear that landlords who manage all aspects of tenancies on their own are being warned not to fall foul of the law.
The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks says that in particular the drawing up of tenancy agreements and other key documents, if undertaken without professional guidance, could inadvertently break the law.
The AIIC says a recent survey by Direct Line found that 58 per cent of ‘go it alone’ landlords were in fact using adapted tenancy agreements from either old agency contracts or a template they found online - with no awareness of how accurate or otherwise they may have been.
The survey also reveals that 13 per cent of landlords have experienced disputes in the past two years, specifically arising from tenants’ rental contracts.
If that was not bad enough, around 10 per cent of landlords had no formal tenancy agreement with their tenants at all.
The AIIC points out that in light of all the new legislation and regulation that has been introduced into the private rented sector in recent years, DIY landlords cannot afford to take any chances or get things wrong.
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. Recently, the government has also issued updates to the rent arrears and increase forms that can be used by landlords.
“Providing and maintaining the correct documentation has become an increasingly important part of being a landlord,” comments Patricia Barber, chair of the AIIC.
“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,” she says.
When it comes to inventories – one of the most important rental documents – Barber says it's all about the detail. “A detailed and professionally compiled inventory really could save a landlord money at the end of a tenancy,” she explains.
“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.