As a landlord in London, it is your responsibility to make sure that the properties you rent out are safe and free of any potential hazards, ready for the arrival of tenants. This includes things checking your properties for hidden dangers such as gas leaks, faulty electrical wiring and the very real risk of asbestos. Doing a thorough property check will help you to avoid any number of future problems, including an asbestos claim from an unhappy tenant.

Asbestos use was very popular in the construction industry during the 70s, this is particularly true in London, an area that saw a lot of growth during that time. However, the material, highly desirable among building companies for its insulative, lightweight properties, was found to cause serious health problems, including several types of cancer. Despite the use of asbestos being banned in the 90s, the hazardous material remains prevalent throughout many homes in Britain.

As well as the moral obligation you have to a tenant, it is also your legal responsibility to check your properties for the hidden danger of asbestos. A rented property is considered a business and therefore must adhere to the The Control of Asbestos Regulations of 2006, regulatory guidelines formed under the framework of the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974.

The regulations state that ‘there is a legal requirement to manage asbestos in all non-domestic properties.’ This means that it is necessary for you, as the landlord, to carry out an asbestos survey of any property that you intend to rent out, as well as coming up with an appropriate management plan to deal with the discovery of asbestos.

Checking the wiring in your properties is another responsibility you have as a landlord. Faulty wiring not only poses a the threat of an electric shock, it is a fire hazard too. Negligent landlords are at risk of being issued fines or even prison terms if one of their properties is found to contain faulty wiring. To fulfill your side of the bargain, you need to make sure that your housing is checked over by a registered electrician, and has regular periodic checks thereafter.

As a landlord, you are also obligated to ensure gas safety in your rented properties. You need to check that any housing that you rent out meets the guidelines set out in The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. This means ensuring the maintenance of flues, appliances and pipes, as well as making sure that your properties get annual gas checks.

As a general rule, it is also important that any work you have carried out on your property is done by registered professionals. This will not only help to ensure that the work completed to a high standard, it will also give you a strong legal footing should any issues arise.

Doing things by the book can be rather arduous and energy sapping, however, it will make your life a lot easier in the long run.

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The second half of 2009 saw the balance of power between landlords and tenants in tenancy negotiations tip marginally towards the landlord for the first time in 18

months. Throughout 2008 and the first half of 2009 tenants had been able to negotiate lower rents due to the imbalance between supply and demand, as sellers became “accidental landlords” and developers opted for the London rental market when unable to secure sales due to the lack of mortgage finance. In the second half of 2009, however, supply became more restricted and it was no longer possible for tenants to secure better terms, either on new leases or renewals.

There were a number of inter-related factors behind this change:

• Increased demand for rental property, reflecting in turn an improvement in the central London employment market in the second half of 2009.
• Relocation agents representing corporate tenants became more active.
• Enhanced demand from students at the start of the new educational year in September 2009, when demand for rental property reaches its annual peak.
• A higher rate of renewals in situ which reduced the level of remarketing of rental stock.
There was limited evidence that “accidental landlords” were withdrawing from the rental market to place their property on the sales market in the light of improved confidence and higher prices.

As a result of this shifting balance, residential rents in Midtown, City and Docklands increased by 5% in the second half of 2009 (Figure 3). The typical rent for a two bedroom flat increased by £20 per week to £450 per week and for a one bedroom flat by £15 per week to £340 per week. It is notable, however, that the pressure for rental increases was concentrated in the 3rd Quarter from July to September and that the market stabilised once more in the 4th Quarter. In spite of increases, the rental option continues to offer very good value to tenants, especially in new major developments near Canary Wharf such as Pan Peninsula and The Landmark with very high quality finishes and where there are additional amenities and facilities on site. In December 2009 we were marketing one bedroom flats in these new developments from £325 per week.

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