What laws apply to a rookie buy-to-let landlord?

I have inherited a pretty mews house and want to rent it out. I have never let a property before, so where do I start?
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Question: I have inherited a pretty mews house. It is far too small for me and my family but rather than sell it, I would like to rent it out to a couple or as a holiday let, and mortage it to release some cash. I have never let a property before, so where do I start?

Answer: Look at the title to the property to see if there are any covenants which might restrict your ability to rent it out — for example, there may be one preventing it being used for business purposes, which would preclude holiday lets as that is usually considered to be business use.

Inform your mortgage broker or the lender that you intend to let the property, as you will need a buy-tolet mortgage. This type of funding will have various conditions attached that will govern the way you can rent out the property.

Prepare a written inventory of the contents if the house is to be let furnished, and a schedule of condition unfurnished. In addition, video evidence of condition and contents is often used.

Once you find a suitable tenant, enter into a tenancy agreement with them. In the case of an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, any deposit you receive must be safeguarded in a tenancy deposit scheme. Your tenant must pay rent and you must maintain the property and provide them with an energy performance certificate and an annual gas safety certificate. Although not a legal requirement, you may also choose to get an electrical safety certificate. Instead of doing it all yourself, a good letting agent could find the tenant and manage everything for you.

What's your problem? If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms and estates team at Withy King LLP (withyking.co.uk). 

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