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.
- 1 Golden Rules of Letting a Home
- 2 Granting An Assured Shorthold Tenancy
- 3 Wales only – Landlord registration and landlord / agent licensing
- 4 Gas Safety Check
- 5 Right To Rent
- 6 Choose The Correct Tenancy Agreement
- 7 Exclusive Possession
- 8 Name And Address Of Landlord
- 9 Check Out The Prospective Tenant
- 10 Tenancy Deposit Schemes
- 11 Housing Benefit / Local Housing Allowance / Universal Credit
- 12 Rent Book
- 13 Guarantor
- 14 HMO
- 15 HMO Licence
- 16 Electrical Safety Certificate
- 17 Energy Performance Certificate
- 18 Furniture
- 19 Possession
- 20 Notify Utilities
- 21 Prescribed information
- 22 Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
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
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.
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.
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).
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)).
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  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).
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].
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]
If the rent is payable weekly, a rent book containing the prescribed information must be provided to the tenant.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.