As a landlord, when you enter into a contract with your tenants you are taking on a number of responsibilities and obligation – many of which also come with the force of law.
The majority of these relate to ensuring that your tenants have a safe place in which to live that is free of serious risks to their health. The principal obligations therefore – and those which carry the stiffest penalties if you are in breach of them- are as follows:
- gas and electrical supplies and appliances must be kept in a safe and well-maintained state of repair – in the case of the former, the installation must be checked annually by a registered Gas Safe engineer;
- you must follow all the local fire safety regulations and also install smoke alarms and carbon dioxide detectors as required;
- you need to give your tenants a copy of the Energy Performance (or rating) Certificate for the property; and
- the local council might decide – if your tenants ask for one or if the council thinks your property poses a danger to tenants – to conduct a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and for you to comply with its recommendations on pain of an official enforcement notice.
The Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme
You also have additional responsibilities for the ensuring the independent protection of any deposit you receive from your tenants. Under the Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme, any deposit must be banked with an approved, independent third party for safe keeping, until the end of the tenancy, when agreement is reached with the tenant about any proportion of the deposit that needs to be retained because of damage, breakages or non-payment of rent or other bills.
Tenants’ Right to Rent
If you are granting any form of tenancy – whether the agreement names the tenant or not, whether the agreement is in writing, or even where there is no formal agreement at all – the law also requires that you carry out a Right to Rent check. This is to check whether the tenant, prospective tenant, or any member of their household intending to live in your let property has an immigration or residential qualification to rent and occupy your property.
You may be fined up to £3,000 if you let the accommodation to a tenant who has no such right to rent.
You are not legally required to have landlord insurance when letting out your property. However, given your investment in it and the risk of loss or damage to the building or your contents within it, you might consider insurance to be more or less essential.
If you are buying the property with the help of a mortgage, your lender is almost certain to insist upon a minimum level of cover for the building itself.
In fact, a landlord’s insurance of the building – against such major risks as fire or flood damage – is something which the government advises tenants in general to check is already in place when taking on any tenancy.
You might want to take advantage of the competitively priced quotes for landlord insurance we are able to offer here at Cover4LetProperty.
Part and parcel of any insurance contract, of course, is your responsibility for compliance with the laws and regulations concerning your relationship with your clients.
How to Rent
The government publishes and regularly updates (the last occasion in February 2016) a guide called How to Rent. Designed for tenants, and a copy of which you are obliged to give them at the start of any tenancy, it contains the kind of checklist of things tenants are advised to establish and to confirm whenever taking on a tenancy.
Knowing what your tenants are entitled to expect, of course, better prepares you as their landlord to provide. A careful reading of How to Rent is therefore recommended.
The checklist includes those certificates and pieces of paper you are obliged to hand to any tenant:
- the How to Rent guide itself;
- the gas safety certificate signed by the Gas Safe engineer after each annual inspection;
- preferably, a copy of any electrical inspections that have been carried out – at least every five years, suggests the guide;
- all the documents and information relating to the arrangements you made to comply with the Tenancy Deposit Protection requirements; and
- unless the property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which rates the energy efficiency of your property.
In addition to the safety checks and procedures already mentioned, you must also maintain the structure and exterior of the property, deal with any problems with the utilities and keep furniture and appliances in a good state of repair.
You always need to give your tenants at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the premises – to make repairs or any inspection, for example.