Posted on: 25 October 2018

Believe it or not, there is much more to becoming a landlord than just drafting a tenancy agreement. There are, in fact, a whole host of obligations, which if aren’t honoured, could lead to legal action and heavy fines.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 sets out a comprehensive list of minimum standards and responsibilities which all UK landlords must adhere to. From electrical testing to tenant referencing, fire safety to repairs, there is a lot for landlords to think about.

Are you looking to rent out a property? To get you started, here are just some of the legal obligations you should honour as a landlord.

Tenancy deposit scheme

One of the many requirements as a landlord is that a tenant’s deposit must, by law, be secured in a government-backed protected scheme (TDP) if it is an assured shorthold tenancy. These tenancy deposit regulations came into force in April 2007 and landlords have since been required to protect deposits by one of three TDP scheme providers:

You can find out more information about protecting tenant deposits by visiting Gov.uk.

Right to rent

Since the introduction of the Immigration Act 2014, landlords, agents and householders renting out property have been required to check that their prospective tenants have the ‘right to rent.’ In essence, this check confirms whether a tenants’ immigration status disqualifies them from renting property.

Right to rent applies to the following residential agreements:

  • Tenancies
  • Licences
  • Sub-leases
  • Leases of less than 7 years

If the check is not made and the occupier has no right to rent, landlords could face civil penalties of up to £3,000. The checks should be carried out within the 28-day period leading up to the start of a new tenancy.

Find out more with our how to perform tenant checks infographic.

Condition and repairs

As a landlord, you are legally obligated to carry out basic repairs. This is covered under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, and means you are responsible for keeping in good repair:

  • basins, sinks, baths, toilets and pipework
  • the structure and exterior of your property (e.g. walls, roof, drains etc.)
  • electrical wiring
  • water and gas pipes
  • fitted heaters

New laws around retaliatory evictions in England came into force in 2015. These provisions were made to protect tenants against unfair eviction where they have raised a legitimate complaint about the condition of their home.

Gas, electrical and fire safety

Gas

If you own a property with gas appliances, you must ensure that safety checks are carried out on a regular basis. This must be done by a professional gas engineer who features on the Gas Safety Register. You are also responsible for the maintenance and repair of flues, appliances and pipework provided for your tenants use.

As a landlord, you are responsible for ensuring an annual gas safety check is carried out within 12 months of the installation of any new appliances.

Refer to the Healthy and Safety Executive (HSE) for more information on gas safety.

Electrical

As a landlord, it is your legal obligation to ensure all electrical appliances and wiring in your property are safe at the outset of letting. This means arranging for a qualified electrician to make basic safety checks on appliances, such as washing machines and cookers. Electrical appliances that have been checked by an electrician should have a PAT (portable appliance test) sticker on the plug.

If you own a house in multiple occupation (HMO), you are responsible, by law, to have the electrics checked every five years. The council can take action against landlords who don't comply with these safety rules.

Fire

It is a landlords’ duty to make sure there is a risk assessment in place to comply with the Fire Safety Order. This should assess the conditioning of wiring in your property, including loose plugs and sockets. You must also make sure that the means of escape from the property (normally the halls stairs and landings) are unobstructed. For further information on the Fire Safety Order go to the RLA website.

You should also ensure that there are working smoke alarms fitted on each floor of your rented property, and there are carbon monoxide detectors in any room with a coal or wood fire. If you own a HMO, you have extra legal responsibilities on fire, gas, electricity and general safety.

Find out more about fire safety for landlords.

Rent books

According to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, either a landlord or property management agent is expected to provide a rent book to the tenant within 28 days of the tenancy starting.

This rent book must be free and contain the following information:

  • tenants’ name(s) and the address of the rented property
  • the name, address and telephone number of the landlord
  • the name, address and telephone number for the estate agent if one is managing the property
  • the amount of rent and rates paid
  • the period covered by each rent payment
  • the capital value of the property (after 1 April 2007)
  • the amount and purpose of any other payment (for example, heating)
  • when the tenancy starts

Landlord insurance

However large or small your property portfolio, it’s important to protect your investment. Buildings insurance and contents insurance, property owner’s liability, loss of rent and legal expenses are just some of the covers that can make up your landlord insurance package. If you have employees you are legally required to have employers’ liability insurance, which provides cover should you have to pay legal compensation for injury to an employee.  

It’s important to check you have comprehensive landlord insurance cover in place. Premier BusinessCare offers competitive polices across landlord insurance. Compare quotes online or call our expert advisors today.

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