At the Landlord Law Conference last week, David Smith HMO expert from solicitors Anthony Gold delivered a very well received talk on HMOs.
One of the points he made was the importance of keeping proper records. A lot of prosecutions could, he said, have been avoided if only the landlords had kept proper records.
So here are five tips, taken from his notes:
Tip 1 – tenant details
Keep full details of tenants arrivals and departures – and also ensure that all tenants have proper tenancy agreements. Which you also need to keep carefully.
Tip 2 – inspection visits
Have detailed records of all inspection visits – when they took place, what you found, discussions with tenants, etc. Inspections should be at least quarterly and in some cases weekly visits may be necessary.
Tip 3 – faults and repairs
Have a full record of all faults found and repair work done, together with receipts and invoices to prove this (should it ever be in question)
Tip 4 – complaints
Copies of all letters to tenants dealing with any problems raised by them.
Also make sure that these things ARE recorded in correspondence – so you can prove that you did not just ignore them. If for any reason a letter is not required – make sure you have a file note of any discussions and telephone calls.
Don’t expect to remember these things – you won’t. And tenants will generally have a different recollection from yours. So make sure you have a note of what actually happened.
Tip 5 – certificates and assessments
Ensure you keep safely all certificates for safety equipment and tests (eg the five year electrical test which all HMO landlords need to have done), along with evidence of your risk and fire safety assessments.
Remember also that if there is no record of something – for example a discussion or a job of work – you will not be able to prove it if challenged.
So ensure your record keeping is spot on and up to date.
David Smith will be taking part in an HMO Workshop from School for Landlords shortly – watch out for announcements.