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Accidental landlords

A stand-off between potential homebuyers unwilling to pay over the odds and sellers reluctant to cut asking prices is creating an army of 'accidental landlords'.

New figures out show that the number of homes sold are a third down on a decade ago. Which means many who inherit property or want to move somewhere more manageable on retiring are letting rather than selling.

This can open a whole can of worms, with some willing to become landlords while others prefer to use a lettings agent. Ed Mead, director of Douglas and Gordon lettings agents explains the pitfalls of becoming a buy-yo-let landlord. He said: 'Although all sales estate agents need to be registered by law, it is not a requirement for lettings agents to be registered. Paradoxically, sales agents do not handle money but lettings agents often do and many of the rising numbers of cases that the Ombudsman sees are to do with monies held.

'Given that lettings are going to become a bigger part of our property landscape, it beggars belief that this Government can’t be bothered to force lettings agents to be registered.'

While Tony Lam, lettings agent at LDG, emphasised: 'Landlords must ensure all documentation is in place and up-to-date. They need documents from their mortgage company to prove they have consent to rent the property, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and other certificates, such as electrical and gas safety certificates to ensure the property is safe and hazard free.

'A common misconception among inexperienced landlords is that if a tenant causes any damage, their deposit can be withheld. But, by definition, a tenant’s deposit does not belong to the landlord. Under the government’s Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), landlords are prevented from holding it or claiming from it without the tenant’s permission.'

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