Landlord responsibilities go beyond simply keeping the property in good condition; there are also specific regulations that must be followed. Should you be out of compliance, you will face either hefty fines or a loss of your landlord’s rights. That is not a risk worth taking.
Do you know what legal obligations landlords must follow when letting properties in England? Work through each of these questions to determine if you are in compliance with applicable UK laws and regulations.
Q1: Are you licensed?
It is essential that you check with the local council to determine if selective licensing schemes are in effect in the area where you are letting properties. If you do not have the proper licence in an area where it is required, you could face significant fines or limitations on your business.
HMO properties will need licences, but local councils beyond that vary. Every part of the country has different rules about licensing, so there is not a cut-and-dry answer about whether or not you need to get a landlord licence to let property.
Q2: Are your energy performance certificate assessments up-to-date?
Before a tenant moves in or a tenancy agreement is signed, you must provide tenants with a valid Energy Performance Certificate.
An Energy Performance Certificate is an assessment that shows that rented homes meet the necessary energy efficiency requirements. If a property doesn’t rate high enough to meet the minimum requirement, landlords must improve the energy efficiency. EPC assessments are valid for ten years but should be reassessed sooner if major renovations are completed.
A copy of the EPC assessment result is given to every tenant that lets the property. If the rules for EPC minimum standards are not followed, landlords face fines of as much as £4,000.
Q3: Are your tenants’ deposits properly secured?
As part of the tenancy agreement, landlords that collect a tenant’s deposit must secure it into one of three approved protection schemes. These are government-backed schemes, and the deposit must be entered into them within 30 days. The three approved schemes are:
The deposit money is kept in a scheme to ensure it is safe and ready to be returned to tenants at the end of tenancy, minus any deductions from settled disputes. It is a legal requirement to register the deposit, and tenants must receive a copy of the deposit information as well as info on how their deposit will be returned.
Q4: Are your properties safe?
All basic letting rules must be followed to ensure that your property is safe for habitation. The HHSRH (Housing Health and Safety Rating System) is the most common tool used to address any rented homes with sub-par conditions. The legislation assesses 29 housing hazards and the effect that each may have on the health and safety of the tenant/s. Issues are ranked in categories, with a 'category 1' hazard being the most dangerous. If a tenant thinks their rental property has one or more of the following hazards and takes the issue to court, as a landlord, you could be ordered to pay compensation and carry out the necessary improvement works. On top of this, you could still also be pursued by your local authority and hit with a separate fine.
Here are the 29 housing hazards to be aware of when making sure your rental property if fit for market:
Via the Stafford borough council website.
In addition to ensuring that the property is safe according to the 29 hazard categories used for rating, landlords must ensure that any gas appliances and related pipes work safely. Gas safety must be inspected yearly by a registered engineer, and both the landlord and tenant should have a copy of the inspection report.
Another aspect of safety is checking the property is not at risk of contributing to a break out of Legionnaires disease. You have a legal obligation to ensure that the hot and cold water systems work property and do not promote bacterial growth.
Q5: Are all tenants allowed to rent in the UK?
The Immigration Act of 2014 clarified what tenants landlords are allowed to let property to in the UK. Section 22 confirms adults cannot occupy a property through a tenancy contract until they are:
- A British citizen
- EEA or
- Swiss nationalHave a “right to rent” in the UK
What exactly is the right to rent in the UK?
Adults can prove that they have this right as long as their presence in the UK is legal and lawful according to current immigration laws. Private landlords are responsible for checking IDs to ensure lawfulness, and this is usually done as part of the pre-tenancy check.There are a variety of documents that may be used to confirm that an adult has the right to rent in the UK:
- UK passports
- EEA passport or identity cards
- Permanent residence cards
- Travel documents that allow indefinite leave
- Home Office immigration status documents
- Certificate of naturalisation
If private landlords are not doing these checks or ensuring that their letting agent does the checks, the fines could be as much as £3,000 per tenant. Learn more about the Right to Rent laws here.
Q6: Are smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors properly installed?
Smoke alarms must be installed in every story of any properties that you let. Additionally, install carbon monoxide alarms as well if fuel burners are present in the rented home. All of these alarms must be tested on the day that the tenant moves in to ensure they are in working condition.
Q7: Are you legally permitted to let the property?
Depending on how you own or occupy a property, there may be specific organisations that you must receive permission from to let the property.
For example, the main landlord of a rented home must be informed before any other letting is done. Similarly, approval may be required from your mortgage lender or insurance company. Check your legal contracts to see what the regulations require before letting your property.
Q8: Are you doing repairs according to the law?
As a private landlord, it is essential to familiarise yourself with the Repairs and Maintenance regulations laid out in the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Essentially, landlords must handle repairs related to:
- The exterior of a property (i.e., roof and chimneys)
- The structure of a property (i.e., walls)
- Anything necessary for safe water, gas, and electricity
Anything that needs to be repaired in these areas to keep the property safe and habitable is the landlord’s responsibility. Additionally, tenants must be notified in writing in advance of doing any repairs when the landlord needs property access. The tenancy agreement should include specific details on repairs and how access for inspection will be handled.
Q9: Do you have insurance?
Unlike many compliance items on this checklist, this one is not a legal requirement. However, it is highly recommended for private landlords to invest in landlord insurance or a rent guarantee. Landlord insurance comes in many varieties and is a great way to protect your property from costly repairs that you cannot prevent. Some mortgages require this insurance to allow letting, so you should check your mortgage contract.
Q10: Have your tenants received all necessary information?
Finally, the UK requires all tenants to receive a copy of a government-supplied guide titled ‘How to Rent.’ This guide should be emailed or printed out and given to all new tenants when they begin their tenancy. The latest version can be accessed here.
Your final landlord compliance complete checklist
The rules outlined above govern landlord compliance rules as they currently stand, but keeping up with the latest letting legislation is always important. Not following through on your obligations can lead to large fines or a loss of your rights as a landlord.
Check through this final checklist, which wraps up the questions asked above, to ensure you’re properly situated.
- Are you licensed?
- Are your EPC assessments properly updated?
- Are all tenant deposits properly secured?
- Are your tenants all allowed to rent in the UK?
- Do your properties have both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors installed?
- Are you legally allowed to let the property?
- Are you following the law on doing repairs?
- Do you have insurance for the property?
- Have you given tenants all necessary documents and information?
You can also read our checklist of the documents a landlord needs to let out a property in England.
Get in touch if you’re looking to let out your property
Completing the amount of documentation and compliance checks required as a landlord can be confusing and time-consuming. If you would like help in this department, you can use the services of a letting agent.
At Portico, we ensure all our landlords are compliant with current legislation and rules. Our in-house handyman team is also on hand to make sure rental properties are free from hazards, safe to let out, and comply with all current rules and legislation.
If you have any questions, or want to make sure your property complies with current legislation, get in touch with us today on 020 7099 4000.
You can also get a quick online valuation of your rental property, or find out if you’re charging the correct rent with our online rental calculator.