Student Accommodation – Landlord Responsibilities
As a landlord offering student accommodation, it is essential to understand that you have responsibilities linked to the safety, security and quality of your property. These include ensuring the property is safe to live in, handling any repair work that is needed, and carrying out necessary checks on equipment.
Of course, this takes time, effort and money, and requires an understanding of the various regulations and legislation covering rental properties. However, on the plus side, landlords that live up to their responsibilities are rewarded through higher rent payments and less chance of accommodation being unoccupied.
Fire, Heat and Carbon Monoxide
Some of the most important legislation to be aware of relates to fire, heat and carbon monoxide safety. In particular, you should familiarise yourself with the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015, which requires a smoke alarm on every floor of a property that functions as living accommodation.
This law also stipulates that you must have a carbon monoxide detector in any room that contains a solid fuel burning appliance, like a wood burning stove. Both your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms also need to be tested and confirmed to be working at the beginning of each new tenancy.
Moreover, the kitchen ceiling of a student home should also have a heat sensor. It is also critical that alarms are set up in such a way that they will work, regardless of whether there is a power cut. At Student Pavilion, we recommend inter-linked alarms, run off the mains, and fitted with rechargeable batteries.
Gas, Electrical Safety and Locks
In addition to fire and carbon monoxide safety, you are responsible for electrical safety too. This includes making sure electrical equipment is installed properly, carrying out inspections and checking that you have a sufficient number of plug sockets. You also need to keep your Energy Performance Certificate up to date.
You must also comply with the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, which cover your responsibilities related to gas safety. Gas appliances must be checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer at least once a year, and at the start of every new tenancy. Failure to do this can result in imprisonment.
Front and back doors should be fitted with appropriate locks, in order to keep the property secure. Furthermore, those doors should also be able to be opened from the inside without requiring a key. This requirement exists for safety reasons, as quick exits need to be possible in the event of a fire.
Repairs and the Overall Condition
As a landlord offering student accommodation, you have a responsibility to make sure the property is generally well-maintained. You will need to cover the costs of any repair work that is needed to the internal or external structure, or to central heating systems, plumbing and similar necessities.
While the students renting your property are responsible for maintaining the overall cleanliness and good condition of the property during their tenancy, it is your obligation to maintain this in between tenancies. At the beginning of each tenancy, the property should be clean and in a good state of repair.
Any furniture you provide should be in acceptable condition and appliances should be in full working order. If the student housing has a garden, it should be maintained between tenancies, so that students move in with the garden in a fit state. It is then their responsibility to maintain this during their tenancy period.
NI, Tax, Insurance and Deposits
Finally, it is absolutely vital that you are aware of your financial responsibilities and that you live up to these. Examples include your obligation to pay income tax on the rent you receive, as well as your obligation to pay National Insurance contributions. Failure to pay taxes can result in fines and even imprisonment.
Taking out landlord insurance is technically a non-statutory requirement, but is extremely important and you need to be aware that standard home insurance is insufficient. Instead, you need to take out landlord insurance with building and contents components. There are specialist providers that will offer this.
Obtaining a deposit from your tenants is also essential, as this offers you protection against damage. However, when you do this, you need to protect the deposit by placing it into a government-backed Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) scheme. This must also be done within 30 days of receiving the money.