Being a landlord is about more than collecting rent and ensuring a few annual safety checks. If you let a property in England or Wales then you are bound by the law in what you must offer your tenants to ensure their safety and to protect their deposit.
In this guide, we cover the current legislation and Government guidance on a landlord’s responsibilities.
It is your responsibility, as a landlord, to ensure that you fit and test a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm. These must be fitted in accordance with The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 which have been in force since October 2015. The regulations require that landlords in the private sector must:
- Fit at least one smoke alarm to every level of the property that they are leasing out that is used as living accommodation.
- Ensure that a carbon monoxide alarm is fitted to in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used.
The alarms must be tested and found to be in working order at the start of every new tenancy. After that, the responsibility for their working order is in the hands of the tenant but it is recommended that tenants are advised to test each device monthly.
If you are renting your property as a furnished or part-furnished let then all upholstery or upholstered items must bear a non-detachable label stating that they are BS7177 approved and thus meet The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended). Carpets and curtains are not covered by these regulations.
Landlords are required to issue a safety check record for all gas appliances fitted in the rented property to the tenant at the start of the tenancy. Annual safety checks must be carried out by a competent Gas Safe engineer and a record of that check must be provided to the tenant within 28 days of the completion of the annual safety check.
The law does not stipulate that carbon monoxide alarms must be fitted in rooms where gas boilers are situated but responsible landlords are encouraged to do so.
Landlords should ensure that any electrical appliances installed in their property such as white goods are safe. Equipment should be marked with the appropriate CE symbol and (where hard-wired) installed by a competent electrician. All items should be regularly maintained.
You can find out more about how to test and maintain your electrical equipment from the HSE.
Energy Performance certificate (EPC)
An EPC is required each time that your property is rented out and a copy must be made available for any prospective tenant to see.
‘How To Rent’ Guide
Tenants must be supplied with the ‘How To Rent’ checklist when they commence a tenancy with you. A pdf copy can be emailed using the gov.uk website. This guide provides tenants with a comprehensive checklist of their responsibilities as well as yours plus important information of what they can do if things go wrong during their lease.
Perform a Background Check
Before you can complete a tenancy agreement it is your responsibility as a landlord to ensure that your tenant (and all intended occupiers of the property over the age of 18) have the legal right to rent a property in England.
You must obtain original documents for all tenants proving their right to live in the UK. You need to check these with the tenants present and make copies. Suitable documents include (but are not limited to):
- UK Passport
- Biometric Residence Permit
- EEA/Swiss National Identify Card
- Certificate of Naturalisation or Registration as a British Citizen
Or you must see a combination of two of the some following documents (full list via gov.uk):
- UK Birth or Adoption Certificate
- Full or Provisional UK Driving License
- Criminal Record Check
- Benefits Paperwork
- A letter of attestation from an employer
- A letter from a university or other institute of higher education.
Some tenants have a limited right to rent in the UK, who may be able to produced a valid passport or other immigration documents endorsed with a ‘time-limit period’.
For more help on how to perform a right-to-rent check including what documents you need to see, visit the gov.uk website.
Keep Your Tenant’s Deposit Safe
The deposit paid by your tenant at the start of the tenancy must be kept safe in a government approved scheme. Known as a TDP (Tenants Deposit Protection) scheme, all assured shorthold tenancies that started after 6th April 2007, offer protection to your tenant that they will receive their deposit back if:
- They have paid their rent and bills.
- They don’t cause any damage to the property.
- They meet the terms of the tenancy agreement.
There are several options for a TDP but you must ensure that details of the scheme have been provided to your tenant within 30 days of their tenancy agreement commencement date. These details must be made in writing and include information such as how their money is protected and who they can contact in the event of a dispute following the termination of their tenancy plus other information. You can find more details of TDP’s from our blog post, ‘Know Your Deposit Rights’.
Income received from being a private landlord is counted as a taxable income and must be declared to the Inland Revenue. You can deduct running expenses but you must keep financial records that will satisfy the HMRC in the event of an audit.
If you are running your property letting activities as a business then Class 2 National Insurance is also payable.
Health & Safety
Whilst there are no legal obligations (other than those already mentioned in the fire, gas and electrical safety sections) for you to have your rental property assessed by the local council, you may at some time be inspected. This could be a result of a complaint made by a tenant as to the standard of accommodation or just a result of the council surveying other properties in the area and identifying yours as a potential risk. Hazards that are surveyed include things like uneven stairs, asbestos risk, damp and mould, home security and domestic hygiene. You can find a full breakdown of the 29 areas covered by a Housing Health and Safety Rating System inspection here.
You have the right to enter your property to make repairs but you must give your tenants 24 hours notice of your intention to do so. This is usually not the case when immediate access is required in the event of an emergency.
You are required to make sure that the home you rent out is free from hazards and that the structure, appliances, heating and hot water plus sanitation is kept in good order. If you are renting a block of flats then you are also responsible for the common areas.
If you fail to keep the property up to standard then tenants have the right to make a claim in the small claims court for repairs under the value of £5,000. They could also undertake the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from their rent.
Depending on your tenancy agreement, you may have the right to increase the rent after repairs have been undertake if they have resulted in major improvements to the property.
Letting a property can be confusing for many landlords and can take up considerable time to manage. Some investors choose to manager their own lets whilst others employ lettings agents to undertake the rent collection and/or full management for them. At Property Assistant, we offer a range of lettings solutions for landlords from finding a tenant and arranging the tenancy agreement (including right to rent checks and securing a deposit in a TDP) through to full lettings management. If you would like to find out more about our services then contact us today on 0118 912 2370.
Featured image via Flickr.