With costs increasing and regulations continuously being added and amended, being a landlord can be difficult. However, to provide you with a good starting point, we've put together a list of avoidable mistakes for landlords to be aware of. This will make you a well respected landlord from a tenant's point of view, while ensuring you have the right kind of tenant inhabiting your property and have financial protection if things don't go quite as smooth as planned

1. Failing to reference check tenants

It is vital to know who you are allowing to move into your property. Doing a thorough background check can help to provide peace of mind that your new tenants are trustworthy and reliable when it comes to paying rent and looking after your home.

If you take out rent guarantee insurance, it may also be a requirement of the policy to perform reference checks before agreeing a tenancy. Failing to do so could result in a subsequent claim on your insurance being rejected.

2. Not being compliant with lettings law

Before letting a property, you should be aware of the rules and regulations involved  covering your rights as a landlord and also those of your tenants. Here are some examples:

The Housing Act 2004 contains the main housing legislation for England and Wales. It requires landlords to meet the legal standards for the condition of private rental sector (PRS) housing. The Government has also compiled a list of hazards to look out for, known as the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

When it comes to the number of tenants living in a property, landlords should also be aware of rules regarding Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Your home might fall under this category if at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than one household, and they share a toilet, bathroom, and kitchen facilities.

Understanding rules regarding evictions is also important. There are different eviction options depending on the circumstance, such as a Section 21 or Section 8 notice for landlords in England and Wales. However, there are legal requirements to fulfil in order for a possession case to be successful. For example, to use a Section 21 notice, tenants in England with an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) must have been provided with the following:

  • A copy of the ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England' leaflet
  • An energy performance certificate (EPC) for the property
  • A gas safety certificate

You also need to have placed their deposit in a government-approved deposit protection scheme.

3. Not keeping contact details up to date

From the beginning of a tenancy, make sure you have the correct contact details for your tenants and that they have yours. Poor communication can put a strain on your relationship with a tenant. If they have a problem with the property or you need to get in touch to organise an inspection, you will need a phone number or email address. If your contact details change, remember to let your tenants know.

4. Not checking up on the condition of your property

Performing periodic inspections of the property allow you to undertake maintenance checks. This may help to catch any issues that are developing and make sure your property is being adequately looked after. You will have to provide your tenants with at least 24 hours' written notice and it must be at a reasonable time of day, as stated in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

5. Failing to have the correct insurance for your property

A rented property may require different cover to that of an owner-occupied home, due to the varying risks involved. Your mortgage may also specifically require you to take out a Landlord Insurance policy. If you don't, you might be breaching the terms and conditions of your mortgage contract.

A comprehensive policy may include covers such as accidental and malicious damage by your tenants and theft or attempted theft by your tenants.

James Collins, Managing Director of specialist landlord insurance provider Just Landlords, comments: "There are a lot of responsibilities to consider as a landlord, but the key thing to remember is that you are providing much-needed safe and comfortable homes for tenants. As well as looking after your own needs as a business owner, remember the impact that you will have on people's lives when it comes to maintaining your let property and following lettings law."