If you’re new to the business of being a landlord – or have simply grown a little rusty – it can be a challenge to remember everything that needs to be done.
To help you along the way, therefore, we offer a brief checklist for landlords of properties in England to get you going. It is by no means an exhaustive list – and you might want to read around the subject or gather more in-depth knowledge by browsing one or more of the many guides you’ll see listed on the right hand side of our homepage:
- the moment you take on the role of landlord you also assume responsibility for the health and safety of your tenants – as a matter of both common law and statutory obligation;
- fall down on those responsibilities and you could find yourself facing stiff fines and penalties or ordered to pay a substantial sum in damages if you are held liable for any negligence;
- you are required by law to have a gas safety inspection carried out by a qualified engineer every year – and give a copy of the certificate of approval to your tenants;
- the housing charity Shelter reminds landlords in England that compulsory electrical checks have been in place since the 1st of July 2020 and that these need to be repeated at least every five years – with a copy of the results of this electrical inspection condition report (EICR) also made available to your tenants;
- the regulations in England relating to the need for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors have been strengthened and new rules come into force from the 1st of October 2022;
- if you are the landlord of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) the conditions of your operating licence may impose even further requirements for fire safety, depending on the nature of your HMO, suggests the Fire Safety Advice Centre;
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
- you are required to provide your tenants with a copy of the latest Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the let premises;
- before you can legally let the property it must have achieved an EPC rating of at least an E – but stricter requirements are under active consideration by the government and, by 2025, you might expect the minimum EPC rating to move up to a C;
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) inspections
- in addition to the specific legislative requirements for safeguarding the health and safety of your tenants, local councils in England and Wales are also empowered to carry out Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) inspections whenever they see fit or if such an inspection has been requested by your tenants;
- if you are the landlord of an HMO, you must expect the local council to carry out just such an inspection within five years of your having applied for your HMO licence;
- in addition to checks designed to safeguard the health and safety of your tenants, other legislation relates to the landlord’s duty to supply a copy to tenants of the latest government publication How to Rent guide;
- you also have a duty to check the immigration status of prospective tenants to ensure that they have a Right to Rent; and
- any deposit you take from your tenants – as security against breakages, for example – must be placed for safekeeping with an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
Even allowing for the fact that this checklist is by no means exhaustive, it is clear that becoming a landlord also comes with a whole raft of legal responsibilities and obligations. Your failure to comply with any one of these rules or regulations can attract substantial fines – and, in some cases, even imprisonment – so, you will do well to follow them carefully and keep thoroughly up to date with any changes.
Please note the information within this blog typically relates to properties in England only and is based on our current understanding of the Law. We recommend you seek advice from the relevant authority if you have any queries relating to the above.