Landlord FAQ's

project management

 

 Q. What are the legal requirements of renting out a property in Northern Ireland?

EPC

In order to rent out a property, landlords are required to have an Energy Performance Certificate which is an energy labeling system to inform prospective tenants how energy efficient a property is. Failing to supply this when advertising a property can result in a fine.

Gas Heating/Appliances

If the property has gas central heating and/or appliances, under the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1997 (Amended 1996) you are required by law to have a COGI registered engineer carry out an inspection on an annual basis. 

Certificate of Fitness

The Private Tenancy Order 2006 states that all properties are subject to an inspection by the Environmental Health except in the following circumstances:

  • Property has received a HMO grant within 10 years 
  • A HMO License is registered
  • Property has had a renovation grant within the last 10 years
  • A regulated rent certificate has been issued in the last 10 years
  • The property was built after the 1st January 1945

If the property is not exempt by the above criteria, you will be required to make an application to the Council to carry out an inspection within 28 days of a new tenancy. The cost is £50 and it is non-refundable. If your property is found to be unfit for people to live in, you will be given a Notice of Refusal. This outlines the type of work needed to make your property fit for people to live in.  Once the repairs are completed, you can reapply for another fitness inspection at a cost of £100. If your property fails our inspection, your rent may be controlled by a rent officer from the start date of your tenancy.

Check out www.dsdni.gov.uk for more information.

Electrical Installation and Equipment

It is recommended that a reputable electrical contractor (preferably NICEIC Approved) carry out detailed safety tests on all electrical installations and appliances. This will ensure compliance with the IEE wiring Regulations.

Furnishings

Under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Amendment Regulations 1993, any soft furnishings supplied by the landlord or agent must be fire retardant and the only definite way of determining this is by having original manufacturers label confirming this.

Smoke Alarms

We strongly recommend that landlords have working smoke alarms fitted on every floor.

Landlord Registration Scheme

As of the 25th February 2014, all landlords must register through the Landlord registration Scheme. For more information and to register go to www.nidirect.gov.uk.

Tenant Deposit Scheme

From 1 April 2013 landlords must, by law, protect any deposit taken in connection with a private tenancy in an approved tenancy deposit scheme. More information and names of approved deposit schemes can be found at www.dsdni.gov.uk.

 

Q. What work do I need to carry out to my property to let it out?

We can advice the landlord when visiting the property to determine a rental value. However; first and foremost it is vitally important that essential repairs are carried out. If tenants see repairs that require attention, they will automatically assume the landlord is neglectful. Always ensure all floor coverings are clean and that carpets do not carry any odours. A lick of paint can be an inexpensive yet very effective way to freshen up a house.

 

Q. Do I have to be insured to rent out my property?

You have to have at minimum buildings cover. We advise getting contents insurance especially if you are letting the property furnished. The tenant will be responsible for cover of their own belongings.

 

Q. How much rent do I charge?

Again, we can advise the landlord when we give our initial consultation. If you are renting out the property yourself, it is always most important to remember you want to rent the property for the highest rent in the shortest period of time. Often landlords get greedy with the rent they charge and end up with a vacant property for months on end.

 

Q. Do I have to notify my mortgage company that I am renting out my property?

Yes, you will have to obtain permission from your lender unless it is a specific buy-to-let mortgage.

 

Q. Should I rent out to a DHSS tenants?

It depends on the type of property you are renting out and what your own personal preferences are. If your property is on the mid to higher end of the rental market, we advice landlords to be very careful to ensure the tenants shortfall is not beyond what the tenant can manage to pay.

We often take on DHSS tenants. As long as the tenant is carefully vetted, they have a guarantor and their Housing Benefit rate is determined, they can often provide peace of mind knowing that the rent comes in every 4 weeks at the same time every time. If it is a day late, you know that there is a problem! We have years of experience dealing with Housing Benefit tenants, so feel free to give us a call if you require more information.

 

Q. Should I rent my property furnished or unfurnished?

Again, this can be down to personal preference. It depends on the market you are in, professionals and students can often expect a property to be fully furnished to minimise their own outlay. If you decide to furnish your property it is strongly advised that you carry out a detailed inventory signed by both the landlord and tenant.

Sometimes we advice landlords not to specify when they advertise, so that they do not limit their market. When a prospective tenant shows interest, they can decide if it is suitable or not a the time and negotiate with the prospective tenant.

 

Q. How do I know if I am getting a good tenant?

If we are letting out your property, we will always do a full credit check and collect references from the tenant. We will also ask for a guarantor if the tenant is on a low income or on Housing Benefit.