The Most Common Mistakes of a DIY Landlord


I’ve just finished banging my head against the wall after that last call. A landlord has phoned asking some advice regarding a Section 21 notice. I had spoken with her a couple of weeks previously as she was unsure which version of the Section 21 notice to send to their tenants. After serving the correct notice, the tenants had sent her a well formed letter informing her the Section 21 notice was invalid and that they would like £1,350 from her as compensation. Tenants aren’t daft and unfortunately with the ever changing laws surrounding tenancies it’s quite easy to slip up.

Here’s my run down of the most common mistakes of a DIY landlord;

Not Protecting The Deposit

A deposit received for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy must be registered with one of the three Government approved deposit companies. Failure to do so invalidates a Section 21 notice and if it hasn’t been done within 30 days of receiving the receiving the funds the tenant can seek compensation up to 3 x the value of the deposit from the landlord. Those of you who followed the fallout from Greenberry Lettings will know that the agent did not register a lot of deposits but it is still the responsibility of the landlord to ensure it has been done. We would recommend the MyDeposits insured scheme as it leaves you in control of the money (if there are any disputes at the end of the tenancy).

Not Issuing The How To Rent Guide

Two weeks ago the Government’s How To Rent Guide was updated and new tenancies must be issued with this. Failure to provide this will also invalidate a Section 21 notice and you will need to evidence that this was served to the tenant. If emailing, make sure you have got consent from the tenant to issue this via email.

Not Conducting An Inventory

If a tenant moves out and damages the carpets or decor and you attempt to claim compensation from your registered deposit how are you going to prove the damage without an inventory? This will be the first thing a deposit company or judge will ask for. Without one you are likely to lose. There are apps you can download and do yourself but there are plenty of independent inventory clerks who will carry one out for £60-90.

Not Inspecting A Property

It’s easy to let sleeping dogs lie. Especially if the sleeping dog is paying rent by standing order. However, to ensure you don’t have problems at the end of the tenancy (wear and tear, unauthorised occupancy etc) it’s best to pop in at least twice a year to make sure all is well. If a tenant decides to move a friend or partner into the house and they do not have the right to work here in the UK then you as the landlord could be prosecuted under the right to rent legislation. Even if you knew nothing about it.

If you’re not doing any of the above I suggest you review your policies immediately. I am still shocked that deposits are not being registered in this day and age. Ignorance is not an excuse and will only anger authorities if you try and go down that route. It’s no wonder more and more landlords are opting to employ a letting agency as good ones are worth their weight in hard-drives full of Bitcoins. Don’t cut corners when building your empire or it may all come crumbling down.


The How To Rent Guide has been updated


Today the Government’s How To Rent Guide has been updated and this new version must be issued to tenants at the start of the tenancy. Failure to provide this (and record that you have provided it) invalidates a Section 21 notice.

Download the new version here.

If you’d like a free 10 point checklist to make sure you’re covered just drop me an email.