4. Property management
4.1 General arrangements
You should always manage properties in a professional manner. If you are unsure what this entails then consider either undertaking accreditation or similar qualification yourself or using an accredited agent.
You should always manage properties in an open and transparent way, subject to maintaining confidentiality in respect of personal information.
You should advise tenants of your contact details for day-to-day tenancy management matters and should be available:
• to be contacted during normal working hours
• to meet tenants; and
• to inspect the property at reasonable times and intervals.
If requested, you should assist tenants in understanding their tenancy agreement or other terms of occupation by explanation or by referring them to www.gov.uk and to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for independent advice. You should not give advice about the tenant’s legal rights, and should avoid a conflict of interest when giving any advice.
You should maintain appropriate records relating to the building and decide how long to keep them, taking account of periods of statutory limitation of action.
You should take steps to keep informed of developments in legislation affecting residential management to keep wholly within the law.
So far as it is reasonably practicable and consistent with statutory and contractual obligations, personal information must be kept confidential and must not be disclosed to other people without consent. It may be permissible to disclose information without consent in accordance with the advice of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). However, a privacy notice to the tenant may be required. You are required to register with ICO if you hold any personal data electronically (this would include holding a tenant’s phone number in your own phone) or pass personal information to someone else, such as carrying out an immigration check with the Home Office. Almost all agents and landlords who do not use agents need to register with the ICO. Landlords who use agents for some or all of the letting and management process may need to register depending on personal information held and/or passed on. See www.ico.org.uk.
You should be aware of the local private rented sector licensing requirements in the area of the premises. This includes additional licensing, selective licensing and mandatory Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) licensing and planning consent requirements (see Licensing of houses in multiple occupation in England: a guide for landlords and managers).
You must ensure that the property and all equipment meet the requirements of the relevant regulations and licensing.
You must not cause or permit a dwelling to be overcrowded.
There is a lot in this section.
It is because someone needs to be on hand to deal with emergencies, that it is often better to employ an agent if you are not resident locally. This is even more important if you live overseas.
You should be careful to keep records of EVERYTHING. You will need records not only for your tax affairs but also in case there is every a dispute regarding the property. This is even more important if the property is an HMO.
Ideally you should keep records for at least six years – the reason being that the limitation period for bringing court proceedings for most types of claim is six years. However if the tenancy lasts longer than six years it is best to keep everything until at least the end of the tenancy.
Registering with the ICO is easy and as the Code says – essential in most cases. You will need to pay an annual fee of (in most cases) £35.
There are extra regulations which apply to HMO properties and some will need to be licensed with the Local Authority. You will find a lot of information in the HMO Legal Basics section on the Landlord Law Blog.