If you’re exploring how to become a landlord full-time or seeing how you can use property to provide additional income, then there are lots to think about. From setting up as a landlord, insurance requirements, and your landlord responsibilities, it can be a minefield.
In this guide, we’ll go through what you need to know if you’re just starting as a landlord in the UK.
Table of contents
- Setting up as a landlord in the UK
- Landlord insurance requirements
- Different types of landlords
- What are landlords responsible for?
- Is being a landlord worth it?
Setting up as a landlord in the UK
Setting up as a landlord in the UK isn’t always straight forward. You may need to register with the right authority, as well as take-out certificates which ensure your property’s safety, all before actually renting it out. Below, we’ll go through what you need to know about setting up as a landlord in the UK.
How do I register as a landlord in the UK?
You may need to register as a landlord, depending on what part of the UK you’re in. But this depends on what part of the UK you are letting the property from. You aren’t always required to register in England, but you should check with your local authority. Voluntary schemes are available however through the National Landlords Association.
Welsh landlords must register. You can register as a landlord in Wales with RentSmart. Landlords in Northern Ireland must also register under the Landlord Registration Scheme. Lastly, landlords in Scotland must register through the Scottish Landlord Register.
How long does landlord registration last?
The length of time your registration is valid for changes in different parts of the UK. Registration lasts for 5 years in Wales, but 3 years in Scotland and Northern Ireland. You don’t always need to register in England so this can depend on your local authority’s requirements.
What certificates does a landlord need?
Landlords need certain certificates to prove their property is up to scratch, which includes an electrical safety certificate and a gas safety certificate. This ensures that the properties you’re renting are safe places for your tenants.
You also need to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with a minimum rating of E. For all of these certificates, you should supply them to your tenants at the start of each new tenancy.
What can landlords claim tax relief on?
You can claim tax relief on many different things when running a property if the expense is directly to do with the cost of running and maintaining the property. For instance, you could claim the cost of replacing damaged items or the cost of marketing your property.
When replacing items, however, these should be a like-for-like replacement, rather than a direct upgrade. For example, you can’t use a broken appliance as an opportunity to purchase a vastly better or more expensive version and claim tax relief.
Landlord insurance requirements
Landlord insurance is essential for you to protect yourself from the unexpected, as regular style home insurance won’t provide any coverage for rental properties.
One of the most popular landlord insurance coverages is liability insurance. This is designed to protect against being sued for injury or damage to a third party. Other policies, such as contents insurance, can help protect you from damage caused by unruly tenants.
But depending on your circumstances, there are lots of different types of landlord insurance and things you need to know. Commercial landlord insurance is also a separate policy type for landlords renting out commercial premises, so that’s worth bearing in mind.
Are landlords required to have insurance?
Landlords are not legally required to have landlord insurance for rental properties. Despite this, it’s an essential thing to have if you want to ensure that your property and its contents are protected, leaving your investment safe.
Without insurance, you’re leaving your property open to damage. For instance, fire, flood, and theft each have relevant policies to ensure you’re protected. After all, fixing the damage caused by fires or replacing appliances can be expensive, so it’s best to ensure you’re protected.
That’s why insurance is so essential for landlords. Even though you’re not legally required to take it out, it’s very risky to go without coverage.
What does landlord insurance cover?
Landlord insurance can cover a range of issues relating to your property, including damage, theft, as well as non-payment by your tenants. There are lots of individual types of insurance policies available on the market.
Below, we’ll briefly cover some of the popular types of landlord insurance and what they protect against:
- Building cover: Protects financial loss from covering the cost to replace or repair the damage to property, such as permanent fixtures, piping, wiring and walls. This can sometimes include “alternative accommodation”, to pay for alternative housing for tenants if the property becomes unfit for habitation.
- Property owner liability cover: Liability insurance protects the landlord from being sued by a third party over injury or damage, including the cost of legal fees and compensation claims.
- Rent guarantee: Often called ‘tenant default insurance’, it covers rent if your tenant stops paying. For instance, they lose their job and can’t afford to pay rent. It may also cover the cost of eviction.
- Loss of rental income: If you can’t rent out the property due to damage, making it inhabitable, then your rental income could protect your loss of income. It only covers properties against insured events, like fire or flooding.
- Contents insurance: Like regular contents insurance, it protects household items like furniture owned by the landlord against damage due to fire, theft and other perils. This is relevant to landlords providing furnished or partially furnished properties.
- Accidental damage: Typically an add-on to contents insurance or building insurance, it covers accidental damage to physical property during a tenancy.
- Legal expenses cover: If you need to pay legal experts to sort a contract dispute or need help with debt recovery, legal expenses cover provides access to a legal team.
How much does landlord insurance cost
Landlord insurance, including both landlord building insurance and liability cover, costs on average from £170 for a typical one-household UK rental property. But it’s worth mentioning that this doesn’t include any nice-to-have add-ons, like rent guarantee, which would increase the cost of insurance.
The price can change depending on a few factors. This includes the value of the property, property size, and the location, but also the type of the building. Our research has found semi-detached properties are the least expensive to insure, but this could change based on your circumstances.
Different types of landlord
Becoming a landlord can be a complicated process. There are different applications, rules and regulations you must abide by. Besides this, you should always check with your local authority to double-check in case there are local procedures you also need to go through.
Below, we’ll go through what you need to know about becoming a private residential landlord, student landlord and commercial landlord.
How to become a private landlord
To become a private residential landlord, the first thing you need to think about is the property itself. If you own it outright, then you’re good to go on this step. But if you still have a mortgage, most won’t allow you to rent out your home. So the first step is to convert your residential mortgage to a Buy To let, so you can begin renting out your property.
Next, you should look at ensuring your home is safe for human habitation. This includes making sure everything’s in good order, as well as carrying out gas safety checks, and completing an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
If you want to rent out a property as a house in multiple occupancy (HMO), then you will need to apply for an HMO license. An HMO is classed as any property of more than four separate tenants sharing the same facilities, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
You may also want to check with your local council to see if there are any other rules you need to comply with.
How to become a student landlord
To become a student landlord, one of the most important parts is understanding your responsibilities for renting out an HMO property—this is because you’re more likely to be renting out a property to many individuals. Responsibilities you need to be aware of include additional health and safety requirements, like fire safety.
Full-time students also won’t have to pay council tax on the property. However, this is the responsibility of the students to get it sorted, not the landlord.
It’s important to remember that like other types of landlord, you must hold your tenant’s deposit in an approved deposit protection scheme.
How to become a commercial landlord
To start letting out commercial premises, you should make certain decisions from the onset. Firstly, you should get permission from your mortgage provider to begin selling commercial property, as well as using a specialist commercial solicitor. Contracts and leases are more complex than residential with more on the line, so using a specialist solicitor will pay off.
With the additional risks, you should consider taking out commercial landlord insurance. This is a specialist type of insurance, with packages typically including cover for physical damage, as well as some kind of liability insurance. You can also take out other policies like a rent guarantee, to protect your income.
What are landlords responsible for?
Landlords are responsible for lots of different areas when renting out a property. From ensuring it’s safe from hazards to ensuring it’s pest-free, landlord safety and maintenance requirements it can be a bit of a minefield. Your exact responsibilities, however, depend on the type of landlord you are.
Commercial landlord responsibilities
Commercial landlords are responsible for ensuring the property is safe for both tenants and anyone else visiting the property. This can include staff if it’s being used as an office space or shop, and possibly customers, too.
Being ‘safe’ means ensuring structural integrity and the maintenance of key structural features. However, many responsibilities, especially when it comes to repairs, lay with the ‘responsible person’, who is often specified as the employer or commercial tenant who rents the property.
It’s important to stipulate in the tenancy and lease agreement exactly what each party is responsible for in the commercial property - this will help reduce confusion down the road.
Responsibilities of private residential landlords
Private landlords have lots of responsibilities. Generally, these are all centred around keeping the property a safe and fit place for human habitation. This is a legal requirement from the Landlord and Tenant Act.
While you may be responsible for some areas, the tenant is also liable for other repair and maintenance areas. The best starting point is always to consult the current tenancy agreement, inventory and the Act. As a general rule though, if the problem relates to the property being in a safe and fit state for habitation, then it’s the landlord's responsibility.
Landlords are responsible for pest control and ensuring a vermin-free environment as they can pose a health and safety risk. This means taking precautions to prevent pests from entering the property. However, if an infestation was due to the actions of a tenant, such as attracting rats due to an unclean environment, then it’s arguable their responsibility.
You must also ensure you meet the legal safety requirements for fire safety, as well as gas safety, electrical safety, and installing and maintaining carbon monoxide detectors.
Registered social landlord responsibilities
Registered social landlords have similar responsibilities to private landlords, as described above. This includes keeping the property in good repair and maintaining the property to ensure its safe for human habitation.
How often should a landlord inspect the property?
It’s a good idea to inspect your properties every quarter to ensure everything is in order. It’s typically unnecessary to visit any more frequently, unless you need to conduct maintenance, for example.
Alongside regular ongoing inspections, it’s a good idea to conduct an exit inspection for tenants leaving the property. This could be around a month from them leaving the property, or sooner. This would be a good opportunity to discover any issues in advance of a tenant leaving, so they have the option to address them.
Is the landlord responsible for council tax?
Tenants are responsible for paying council tax in almost all cases. However, the landlord would be liable if the property wasn’t occupied by tenants, for instance. While eligible students are exempt from paying council tax, this doesn’t mean the landlord pays instead - no council tax needs to be paid at all.
To pay council tax, the tenant must be over the age of 18 also. So if you’re offering tenancies to people under that age, then you may have to pick up the bill yourselves.
Is being a landlord worth it?
It’s not a secret that being a landlord can be profitable, and a reliable income stream especially when you consider constantly rising house prices. If you can afford to get into renting properties, then it could be worthwhile.
But, it’s not as profitable as it used to be. With so many rules and regulations for landlords, it can be difficult for new landlords on the renting scene. From all the different safety and maintenance requirements, down to finding responsible tenants and sorting any damages, it can be a headache.
Overall, to become a landlord in the UK, you first need to register with local authorities. Then, you need to ensure you comply with a range of legal safety obligations, such as providing the right electrical and gas safety certificates.
It’s important to understand the risks of being a landlord, too. From damage to your property to tenants failing to pay rent, the right landlord insurance policy can help minimise the dangers.