As managing agents, we deal with many of the legal responsibilities and obligations which are beholden on you as a landlord.
However, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are in compliance with these, and so it's important to be aware of what these comprise.
You may find this list helpful.
Making sure your property is safe
You are responsible for ensuring your compliance with the following five health and safety checks.
- Energy Performance Certificate Since 1 October 2008, it's been a requirement to hold an Energy Performance Certificate for all rental properties. The Certificate is valid for 10 years from issue. Unless you provide your tenant with a copy of the EPS, you would be unable to serve a Section 21 notice to repossess the property.
- Gas Safety Check – Under the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998, you are responsible for making sure both the gas supply and all gas appliances are safe. To do this, you must have a Gas Safe registered engineer carry out a safety check before you begin to rent out the property. The test must be repeated every 12 month and a new certificate obtained. Don't miss this one. (And if you are a landlord for whom we manage the property fully, we won't allow you to.) It's a criminal offence to fail to comply with this, with a substantial fine or imprisonment attached.
- Electrical Safety Check – The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994 stipulate that you must have the electrical installation checked by, and obtain a safety report from, a properly qualified electrician.
- Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors- You must, by law, have at least one smoke alarm on each floor of your property. Similarly, you must have a carbon monoxide detector in any room with an appliance that burns solid fuel. You must check and record the alarms as working before the commencement of each new tenancy.
- Legionella Risk Assessment – Few landlords are aware that, under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, you are under an obligation to carry out a Legionella Risk Assessment to assess the water system for legionella bacteria.
Ensuring you are free and ready to let the property
- Mortgage – If you have a mortgage on the property, your lender should provide its consent for you to let the property. In doing so, they may require additional clauses to be added to the mortgage, and if this happens these must be specified in the tenancy agreement.
- Leaseholds – You must check the terms of your lease, if your property is leasehold (either a house or a flat within a block) to see whether letting is permitted. There could well be clauses in the lease that relate to letting to another, and if there are then these also must be included in the tenancy agreement.
- Insurance – Your exposure to claims for injury from your tenants, amongst other things, means that you must put in place a Landlords Buildings Insurance policy before the tenancy commences. This will also cover you for malicious damage and for periods when the property is empty for more than 30 consecutive days. Landlord's cover usually includes Public Liability and Property Owner’s Liability cover. It will also usually cover the cost of providing alternative accommodation, loss of rent cover, replacement of locks and glass and sometimes contents as well, which will be needed if the property is let furnished. It's also your responsibility to insure all fixtures and fittings in the property. You are not responsible for insuring personal possessions belonging to your tenants.
Meeting your obligations
- Furniture and Furnishings – You are required by law to ensure that any furniture in your property complies with the 1993 Amendments to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988. Not doing this is actually a criminal offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment, while also leaving you open to civil proceedings.
- Right to Rent – Before you rent out your property, the Immigration Act 2014 requires that you make ID and Right to Rent checks on all adult occupiers. You must see, and make a copy of, documentary evidence that each adult is actually entitled to rent in the UK. If you fail to carry out the checks, you are open to a fine of up to £3000 per adult occupier. In short, a tenant must be a British Citizen, from a European Economic Area, a Swiss national, or have proof of their continued right to rent. You may rent to tenants from outside the UK or European Economic Area, providing they can provide documentary evidence of having what is known as a 'time-limited right to rent'. We will deal with this for you if we handle your letting, but you should still be clear on the obligation.
- How to Rent Guide – You are obliged to provide all new tenants with the DCLG's current ‘How to Rent’ guide. The guide gives your tenants a solid checklist of the steps they should consider and take in renting a property. If you do not provide this, you will not be able to serve a Section 21 notice should you wish to end the tenancy.
- Deposit Protection – When you take a deposit for an assured shorthold tenancy the UK Housing Act 2004 requires it to be registered with a Government approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. This must be done within 30 days. You must then give your tenant what is known as the 'prescribed information' - full details of the deposit and the scheme within which it is registered, plus the explanatory Tenant leaflet which each scheme provides. If you don't register the deposit within 30 days, or don't give the tenant the prescribed information, you will not be able to end the tenancy by serving a section 21 notice. Your tenant may also claim up to three times the deposit amount as a penalty. We will of course deal with this for you if we handle your letting, but you should still be clear on the obligation.