Back to Basics

This is a brief non-comprehensive list of essential landlord requirements when letting property. They apply to ALL types of tenancy unless otherwise stated. This page is very much a quick overview and nothing more.

Around 90% of all our enquiries and questions can be answered by visiting the subscribers page.

Golden Rules of Letting a Home

Always follow the golden rules of letting a home to ensure the risks of letting are reduced to a minimum.

Granting An Assured Shorthold Tenancy

See here for in-depth guidance about granting an assured shorthold tenancy

Wales only – Landlord registration and landlord / agent licensing

In Wales only, all landlords must register and all self-managing landlord plus all agents must obtain a licence.

See here for landlord information.

See here for agent information.

Gas Safety Check

An annual gas safety record is required by a gas safe register engineer. A newly installed boiler only requires a certificate within 12 months of the install.

See here for more details.

Right To Rent

A landlord (or agent with written authority) must check the identity of ALL adult occupiers (not just tenants) and retain a legible copy of the ID. A passport is easiest but if not available, 2 documents from what’s known as list B would be needed (e.g. driving licence AND birth certificate). The ID must be retained for at least 12 months after the occupiers have vacated and then it should be destroyed. Checking the ID must be ‘in person’ or via ‘live video link’ (with the original ID in the presence of the landlord).

If it is found the occupiers are non EEA citizens and therefore have a limited right to rent, further checks will need to be done before expiry of their visa (or other travel documentation allowing a limited time in the UK).

See here for more details.

Choose The Correct Tenancy Agreement

Is the tenancy to be an assured shorthold tenancy? The vast majority will be, however, there are a number of tenancies that cannot be AST. These include: Company lets, tenancies where rent is in excess of £100k per annum, lodgers, holiday lets, resident landlords (where landlord lives in one of several converted flats and lets the other flat(s)).

See here for more details.

Exclusive Possession

It’s important to remember that when you grant a tenancy, you are giving the tenant “exclusive possession”. Exclusive possession is the ability on the part of a tenant to exclude all persons, including the landlord, from possession. [Street v. Mountford [1985] 2 W.L.R. 877]. Although there are certain rights of entry available to a landlord and if a tenant refuses access, they may be liable for certain damages caused (for example if there is a leak and the tenant won’t allow you entry to repair), ultimately, the tenant is entitled to refuse access (by refusing access, this will often be a breach of the tenancy).

Name And Address Of Landlord

A name and address of the landlord in England or Wales must be provided. This can be done by notice or be contained in the tenancy agreement. No rent is payable by the tenant if a landlord fails to provide a name and address in England or Wales where notices will be accepted as served upon the landlord.

If you need a separate form, see here (normally this will be included in the tenancy so you won’t need the form unless changing address mid-tenancy)

Check Out The Prospective Tenant

It is essential to carry out checks on the prospective tenant. There are many services available including one provided by The Guild of Residential Landlords. Checks should look for County Court Judgements and bankruptcy etc. In addition, “right to rent” checks must be conducted (in England only currently).

See here for more information Right to Rent

And here for tenant referencing service

Tenancy Deposit Schemes

If you take a deposit in connection with an assured shorthold tenancy, this must be protected within 30 days in one of the schemes namely Deposit Protection Service, My Deposits and Tenancy Deposit Scheme (Dispute Service). In addition, please remember that a deposit is not fully protected until the prescribed information has been given to the tenant and the tenant has had “the opportunity” to sign the information. The penalties for a failure to protect or provide the prescribed information are severe for a landlord. These provisions do not apply to an “assured” tenancy or common-law contractual tenancies [s.213(1) HA2004].

See here for more information.

Housing Benefit / Local Housing Allowance / Universal Credit

The payment in most cases will go directly to the tenant but if they become 8 weeks or more in arrears, you can seek payment direct to the landlord. When calculating 8 weeks arrears it is the contractual liability to the landlord that matters so if the rent is payable calendar monthly in advance, the tenant is 2 months in arrears after one month and one day [Doncaster v Coventry City Council 5 October 2009]

Rent Book

If the rent is payable weekly, a rent book containing the prescribed information must be provided to the tenant.

Guarantor

In our opinion, one of the secrets to letting. Having a home owning guarantor (often family but not essential) provides the landlord with great powers when dealing with bad tenants. Although you may not always get the money easily from a guarantor, often much goes on in the background that you might not see which can reduce the time taken to gain possession of the property.

HMO

As a quick rule of thumb, any property (including a self contained flat) will be an HMO if it has 3 or more unrelated occupiers. Related means parents, brother, sister etc. If a property is an HMO, a landlord will need to follow the management of HMO regulations which requires things like placing notices of the landlords details in the property, ensuring the property is safe, has fire precautions and an electrical safety certificate every five years.

See here for more information.

HMO Licence

If your property is an HMO, it may need a licence. As a quick rule of thumb, mandatory licensing is only required if the property has 5 or more unrelated occupiers and is 3 or more storeys. Converted attics and basements can be regarded as storeys. However, local authorities may introduce additional licensing or selective licensing in certain areas. If so, the local authority will determine the types of properties that require a licence.

See here for more information.

Electrical Safety Certificate

Despite many myths, on a normal family let property, there is no legal requirement to have a periodic electrical inspection. However, you are well advised to carry out a check at least every five years because of the several regulations relating to electrical safety. If the property is an HMO, it will require an electrical inspection and certificate every five years. This can include certain converted blocks of flats, not just bedsit type accommodation.

See here for more information.

Energy Performance Certificate

An EPC must be provided to all “prospective” tenants, normally whilst you are viewing the property. Existing tenants prior to October 2008 do not require one. An EPC lasts for 10 years.

See here for more information.

Furniture

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 are made under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and were amended in 1989 and 1993. The Regulations set new levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery. Landlords and letting agents are included under the scope of the regulations. In 1993 amended regulations were introduced and specific attention is drawn to the responsibilities of letting agents and those engaged in the “letting of accommodation”.

Supplied furniture must be able to pass the match test and the cigarette test and the furniture must be labelled correctly.

Possession

When seeking possession, whilst the tenant is in occupation (or there is an intention to return) a court order is required for possession. A landlord must never simply change the locks. For assured shorthold tenancies, two notices are available. The section 8 notice allows in certain circumstances, the landlord to issue proceedings on several grounds. The most common is ground 8 where the tenant is two months or more in rent arrears. This ground can be used during the fixed term if there is a forfeiture clause or something similar and can be used after the fixed term.

A section 21 notice may be served on an assured shorthold tenancy which is often called a “no fault” notice. No grounds are required and although maybe served any-time (including during the fixed term) it must (a) be at least 2 months in length and (b) must never expire before the end of the fixed term (if any). A notice served after the fixed term has ended must expire “on the last day of a period of the tenancy”.

A common-law tenancy will require either a notice to quit if the tenancy is periodic or forfeiture will apply if there is a breach of the tenancy (including non-payment of rent) during the fixed term (forfeiture is also possible during any periodic term).

See here for our possession notice guidance.

Notify Utilities

It is important to notify utility companies about the new occupiers. Most importantly, the water provider must be notified because in Wales (coming at some point to England) a landlord is / will be jointly liable to pay tenants water charges if the owner fails to provide certain information when the tenancy commences.

See here for information about notifying water.

Prescribed information

Not to be confused with deposit prescribed information, for tenancies or renewals granted from 1 October 2015 in England, the tenancy should always be accompanied with the following documents:

  • Energy performance certificate
  • Gas safety certificate
  • How to rent guide

You should ensure you have some proof that the tenant received the documents (ideally within the tenancy agreement itself). Always keep a copy.

The above items must have been given before a section 21 notice is served.

Please see this article for more information.

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

In England, all rented property must have a smoke alarm on each storey.

A carbon monoxide alarm is required in any room containing a solid fuel appliance.

Please see this article for more information.

 

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