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Landlords who are tempted to reduce costs by trying to let and manage properties themselves could be making a potentially dangerous and expensive mistake.

For instance, landlords are legally responsible for the safety of their tenants so if annual safety checks are not carried out, criminal convictions could follow including manslaughter charges if, for example defects in heating systems are found to be hazardous.

Many landlords don’t appreciate either that Section 21 possession notices cannot be served within the first 4 months of a tenancy, have a lifespan of 6 months and will only be regarded as valid if landlords or agents can prove that tenants have been notified of their rights and responsibilities in writing before occupation.  That is to say nothing of landlords’ obligations to verify that tenants have a ‘right to rent’ under the Immigration Act or face fines of up to £3,000 per illegal immigrant!

If that wasn’t enough, renewal contracts issued by landlords, who may adapt previous agents’ agreements or templates found online (which are not always legally compliant), may find it more difficult to evict unwanted tenants.

Furthermore, failure to advise tenants of their landlords’ name and address, as well as details of an accredited dispute resolution service or comply with money laundering, health and safety, licensing etc. rules can have legal and financial consequences too. For example, by not paying a tenant’s deposit into one of three government-approved schemes, landlords could be liable, not just for the return of the deposit, but also for a fine of up to three times its value!

With over 160 Acts of Parliament and over 400 regulations with which buy-to-let properties, landlords, tenants and agents have to comply with, an RICS and ARLA-qualified agent like Jeremy Leaf is more likely to offer appropriate knowledge and experience of these issues as well as client money and professional indemnity protection which will certainly help landlords to avoid some of the many potential pitfalls!