1. Check tenants have the ‘Right to Rent’

Landlords must ensure tenants can legally reside in the UK before letting to them. The penalty for renting to someone without the right to rent is a £3,000 fine or even imprisonment. The government has issued a list of commonly available documents to check. If your tenants have the right to rent, take a copy of the document and keep it on file.

2. Protect the deposit

Deposit protection is a legal requirement for landlords. Landlords must protect deposits within 30 days of receiving funds, or face a fine of up to three times the deposit amount. At the end of the tenancy a court may also decide that the tenant will not have to leave the property when the tenancy ends if the landlord has not used a TDP scheme when they should have.

You must place your tenants’ deposit in a tenancy deposit protection (TDP)

These government-backed schemes ensure your tenants will get their deposit back if they:

  • Meet the terms of your tenancy agreement
  • Don’t damage the property
  • Pay the rent and bills

3. Make your property fire safe

A smoke alarm must be on all floors of the property, and carbon monoxide detectors must be in any rooms consisting of fuel-burning devices. If your property comes with furniture, it should be flame resistant.

4. Make sure your Gas Safety Certificate is up to date

If there’s a gas supply at the property, you must arrange a gas safety inspection each year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. You must give a copy of the certificate to tenants at the start of a tenancy.

5. Electrical safety checks for private tenancies

From 01 July 2020, private landlords must make sure that all electrical installations are inspected and tested by a registered electrician. The electrician will produce an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR).

The report will either:

    1. Confirm that all installations meet the required safety standards
    2. Tell the landlord to undertake further investigative or repair work within 28 days
  • Checks must be carried out at least every 5 years, or sooner if the report says so.
  • Landlords must give tenants a copy of the report within 28 days of the inspection.
  • For private tenancies starting on or after 01 June 2020, the first check must be done before the tenancy starts.
  • For private tenancies that started before 1 June 2020, landlords have until 1 April 2021 to make sure the first check is done.
  • NB. Electrical safety checks are not required if you are a landlord with a lodger.

6. Make sure your EPC is up to date

Landlords must have a valid EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) to let a property legally in the UK. You must give a copy of the certificate to tenants at the start of a tenancy. (EPC must be done every 10 years)

NB. New laws have been introduced regarding energy performance. From 01 April 2020, the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of all tenanted properties must be an E or above. Landlords who don’t comply with the regulations may face penalties of up to £5,000. If you’re a landlord purchasing a new build, this is a cost you won’t have to worry about.

7. Give tenants a copy of the ‘How to Rent’ guide

This guide lists landlord obligations and tenants’ rights. You must either give tenants a hard copy or email it to them as an attachment. A link to the guide is not enough. Landlords who fail to do this are unable to evict tenants under a Section 21 Notice.

8. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act was introduced to make sure that rented houses and flats are ‘fit for human habitation’, which means that they are safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm.

As of 20 March 2020, tenants who have a secure or assured tenancy, a statutory tenancy, or a private periodic tenancy, can use the Homes Act, regardless of when their tenancy began.

Under the Act, landlords can be forced to carry out improvement works to their properties and be sued for damages for the entire length of the contract.

Tenants can take landlords to court if one of the following has occurred:

  • The building has been neglected and is in a bad condition
  • The building is unstable
  • There’s a serious problem with damp
  • It has an unsafe layout
  • There’s not enough natural light
  • There’s not enough ventilation
  • There is a problem with the supply of hot and cold water
  • There are problems with the drainage or the lavatories
  • It’s difficult to prepare and cook food or wash up

There is a problem with any of the following 29 things:

  • Damp and mould growth
  • Excess cold
  • Excess heat
  • Asbestos and manufactured metal fibres
  • Biocides (chemicals that treat mould)
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Lead
  • Radiation (from radon gas, which is airborne or in water)
  • Uncombusted fuel gas (leaks in gas appliances)
  • Volatile organic compounds (chemicals which are gases at room temperature)
  • Crowding and space
  • Entry by intruders (such as not having a lock on your front door)
  • Lighting
  • Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse (including inadequate provision for disposal of waste water and household waste)
  • Noise
  • Food safety
  • Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage
  • Water supply
  • Falls associated with bath or shower
  • Falls associated with stairs and steps
  • Falls on the level (danger of falling on a flat surface)
  • Falls between levels (danger of falling from one level to another, for example, falls out of windows)
  • Electrical hazards
  • Fire and fire safety
  • Hot surfaces and materials
  • Collision and entrapment
  • Explosions
  • Physical strain associated with operating amenities (i.e. very heavy doors)
  • Structural collapse and falling elements

9. Make sure appliances are in working order

Any appliance left in the property must be safe to use. Anything not working should be replaced or removed.

*This article is for general awareness only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this page was first published.