THE face of property landlords is changing, but many new ‘default landlords’ might be unaware of their legal obligations, and can face hefty fines or even jail if they fail to comply with legislation, warns Paul Oughton, who heads the lettings department at Cirencester agent Moore Allen & Innocent.

For the past decade, the property lettings market has been dominated by professional landlords, who have invested in houses and flats as a source of income and a retirement nest egg.

Encouraged by the availability of buy-to-let mortgages, a building boom, spiralling house prices and an entire genre of television property programmes, lettings became a viable and lucrative career for many.

But in the past few months, house prices have become moribund, changes to capital gains tax and stamp duty have started to take effect and lettings agents have seen more and more ‘default landlords’ employing their services.

Typically, default landlords fall into two camps, there are people who have vacated their homes – perhaps due to upsizing, downsizing or moving away from the area – and there are those people who have inherited homes.

In both cases they will have looked at the property market and decided that now is not the right time to sell.

Their only alternative, other than to leave the property vacant, is to become a landlord.

Our concern is that people for whom being a landlord is not an occupation may think that putting a To Let notice online or in the local newspaper, taking a deposit and collecting the rent cheque at the end of the month is all that is required.

In fact the legal requirements with which a landlord must comply can be complex and confusing and if anything, have become more so in the past couple of years.

Employing the services of a lettings agent will help landlords navigate the minefield of legislation surrounding property rental.

From arranging Energy Performance Certificates and right to rent checks to ensuring gas and electrical appliances are safe, advising on the type of insurance landlords might need and drawing up inventories and contracts, lettings agents can take the headache out of renting a property.

The development of the Energy Performance Certificate requirements is a typical example of a pitfall facing the default landlord.

Rental property must be tested and graded for energy efficiency before being rented.

Landlords face a Trading Standards fine for each property that does not comply with this new legislation - but how many default landlords would know that?

The certificates last for up to 10 years but no reminder is sent when the existing certificate expires.

In addition, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) came into force in April 2018 and require properties where a new rental contract is being established or renewed to have a minimum EPC rating of E.

Where the minimum requirement cannot be reasonably attained a restricted number of time limited exemptions can be applied for.

From April 2020 these requirements will apply to all leases, including leases that already exist with tenants in occupation.

Worse still, anyone letting a property without a gas safety certificate for their appliances faces a fine of up to £20,000, or up to six months in jail, with the consequences being much harsher if a tenant falls ill or dies as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Faulty electrics and furniture that fails to comply with fire regulations, or not registering under the newly upgraded House in Multiple Occupation regulations, can also leave landlords facing a fine of thousands of pounds or a jail term.

Meanwhile, lettings agents can also help secure a suitable tenant quickly.

An experienced, local, ARLA Licenced agent such as Moore Allen & Innocent will be best placed to advise clients on the best way to present a house to secure the best tenant, while many advertising and marketing streams available to established estate agents – including magazines, internet sites including, Rightmove, Zoopla and On The Market, and of course, the high street window – are not open directly to the general public.

Moore Allen & Innocent have been successfully letting and managing property for years and their reputation speaks for itself winning numerous awards for their marketing and customer service.

The fee structure is simple and competitive whilst the service is professional, comprehensive and tailored to the needs of individual Landlords.

They are also experienced in providing investors with all kinds of information and intelligence about an area, either prior to buying or for those who already own properties, and they know how to make the most of the selling points of a particular area or property.

Coupled with excellent local knowledge and a personal, friendly approach, it all adds up to a quality service and peace of mind for Clients.

For further information and a no obligation chat on letting or managing your property, please contact Paul Oughton and Elizabeth Davis at Moore Allen & Innocent in Cirencester on 01285 648118 or Nancy Haughton and Lorraine Kyte in Lechlade on 01367 253138 or email: