All you need to know about landlords

What is privately rented housing?

Private renting refers to any situation in which you pay rent to the owner of a property, or to an agent acting on their behalf, where that owner is an individual and not a public organisation (e.g. a local authority). In this way, private rental property is distinct from local authority or housing association property.The term independent landlord refers to any individual who puts a room or property up for rent themselves, without using a letting agent. This means you are dealing with an individual owner rather than with a company. A professional landlord is a lettings agent who is employed by the property owner to rent out and manage their accommodation on their behalf.The privately rented housing sector in the UK is increasing, with almost 2.5 million homes and 11% of the housing stock currently rented privately. (Source: the Department for Communities and Local Government). However, this is still a very small proportion of the property market when compared with other European countries, some of which rely far more on private rentals.The UK has traditionally had a greater focus on property ownership (“The Englishman’s home is his castle”), but high prices and less job security is changing that. For many younger people, or for those who require greater flexibility about where they live and for how long, renting is a more suitable option than buying.

How does somebody become an independent landlord? Do they need to be registered or licensed?

It’s very easy to become an independent landlord. Aside from owning a room or property – or be renting it with a lease longer than that of the person they will be sub-letting to, although the property owner must agree to allow the property to be sub-let – a potential independent landlord doesn’t need to do anything. There are no official bodies to register with or licenses to buy.A landlord can choose to manage their property independently, or can employ a letting agent (a professional landlord) who takes charge of drawing up the lease, handling tenants’ problems, and maintaining the property on their behalf.Landlords can either let an entire property, or let out a room or rooms in the house in which they live. The latter situation is called a resident landlord letting. If you rent from a resident landlord (i.e. renting a room in the landlord’s house) then your rights differ in two important ways. You do not have a right to challenge the level of rent that you agreed to pay, and the landlord can give you less notice to leave if they wish to end the letting.

Who regulates private landlords?

Independent landlords are not registered or regulated by any specific body, so it’s important to be familiar with the legislation that protects your interests. The most recent Government legislation regarding property is the Housing Act 2004 (available online).Some (not all) letting agents are regulated by the National Approved Letting Scheme. #Association of Residential Letting Agents
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
  • National Association of Estate Agents,
  • Registered Social Landlords (housing associations).

How does it work? What formalities are there?

All a landlord needs to do to rent out their property is draw up a lease which you both sign. The majority of leases fall under the category of Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement. (Notable exceptions to this are arrangements in which little or no rent is paid; business lettings; and student halls of residence).If you moved into your rental property prior to 27 February 1997, and were not notified otherwise, then you might be an Assured Tenant, which gives you greater rights. If you moved in before 15 January 1989 then you are classed as a Regulated Tenant, and have again greater rights over your property.An Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement must specify a fixed period of occupation, with a minimum period of six months. A two month period of notice is required before a tenant can be evicted, and the agreement cannot permit the tenant to leave earlier than the specified six months for any reason other than non-payment of rent.