We understand that being a landlord is a big responsibility and we’re here to help you understand your legal obligations to make your role as easy as possible.
1. Make sure you’re providing the correct documents at the start of every tenancy
A landlord is legally obliged to provide a selection of documents at the beginning of every tenancy. Failure to provide your tenant with the necessary documents can have significant consequences, including being unable to recover possession of your property at the end of the tenancy using the “no fault” procedure.
The documents which you must provide are as follows:
- Prescribed information relating to the tenancy deposit
- Energy performance certificate (EPC)
- Gas safety certificate
- “How to Rent” guide
2. Remember, you must protect your tenant’s deposit within 30 days of receiving it
Protecting a tenant’s deposit is a mandatory part of being a landlord. This is to protect both you and your tenant, and there are two different methods of protection available. You can only protect a deposit with a government-approved provider.
3. Make sure your tenant has the Right to Rent
You should not enter into a residential tenancy agreement with someone unless they are a British citizen, or EEA or Swiss national, or have a “right to rent” in the UK. It is important to ask any prospective tenant aged 18 or over to provide proof of ID and citizenship for these purposes before entering into a tenancy agreement.
4. Provide the tenant with your contact address
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 states that a landlord must provide an address at which they can be contacted. If you fail to supply the tenant with an address, then you will not be entitled to receive any rent until you have done so.
5. Keep on top of rent payments
As a landlord, one of your primary concerns will be ensuring that your tenant pays their rent when it falls due. Complacency can slip in where a tenant pays their rent on time every month, but even the best tenants can fall foul of circumstances beyond their control.
It is important to keep an accurate and detailed log of all rent payments that are made/not made. This will be vital in the event that you have to consider regaining possession of your property on the grounds of non-payment of rent.
6. Carry out regular inspections
As a landlord you have the right to inspect the property at reasonable intervals, upon having provided your tenant with the required prior notice. It is useful to inspect the property regularly so as to identify any potential issues, and prevent any further issues from arising at an early stage.
The amount of notice you are required to give your tenant should be set out in your tenancy agreement. If the agreement does not specify the amount of notice required, it is important that you give your tenant “reasonable notice” of no less than 24 hours (this does not apply to emergency situations where you are permitted to enter the property immediately to deal with the emergency).
7. Know your repairs & maintenance obligations (section 11, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985)
In addition to any repair and maintenance obligations set out in your tenancy agreement, you are responsible for the structure and exterior of the property (including drains, gutters and external pipes); as well as ensuring the provision of services including water, gas, electricity, heating and sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences).
It is important to note that you are not responsible for damage caused by tenants, albeit it may be in your interest to work with your tenant to ensure any damage is repaired to an appropriate standard.
8. Remember to carry out annual Gas inspections
The Gas Safety Regulations 1998 place a statutory duty on all landlords of residential property to ensure that all gas appliances, pipe work and flues are maintained in a safe condition (unless the property is without gas).
You must ensure that an inspection of all gas appliances at the property is carried out annually by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer. Once the check has been carried out, you should serve your tenant with a copy of the updated certificate within 28 days.
9. Think about electrical safety
Unlike the Gas Safety Regulations, there is no mandatory requirement for electrical equipment at the property to undergo any safety testing. However, there is an obligation on you to make sure the property is safe. Therefore, it’s recommended that you check all electrical appliances and electrics before the start of a tenancy and regularly thereafter.
10. Take out suitable insurance
Many landlords are unaware that specialist landlords insurance is needed to cover things like loss of rent and landlord liability. General home buildings and contents insurance is not usually adequate to cover third party risks. Having specialist landlord insurance ensures that you limit your exposure to risk, and therefore protects your financial wellbeing.
11. Remember your tenant has rights
Sometimes it’s difficult to accept that your tenant is the legal occupier of your property, and you cannot enter the property without their permission. This also applies if your tenant is in breach of the terms of their tenancy agreement – i.e. if they have fallen into rent arrears or have caused damage to the property.
In the event that you wish to repossess your property because your tenant is in breach of their tenancy agreement, you will need to follow the correct legal procedure in order to avoid prosecution.
12. Prevent disputes by communicating with your tenants before issues have the chance to escalate
Disputes can be an awful process for everyone involved. The best way to deal with a dispute is to prevent there from being any issues in the first place.
Open communication is the key to a happy tenancy, both for you and your tenants. Be very clear about your expectations and their responsibilities, and try and work together (where possible) to resolve any issues which may arise.
If you are a landlord and have questions about your responsibilities, or you need advice due to a dispute with a tenant, you can contact Daniel Coleman on 023 8071 7487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.