As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to keep your property safe and free from health hazards for your tenants, as well as follow regulations with regards to rent and deposits.


 

Safety

 

Gas Safety

As a landlord, you must make sure that any gas equipment you supply in your property is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

You should also have a registered engineer complete a 12 monthly gas safety check on appliances and the flue to ensure that all of the gas fittings are safe to use. Be sure to give your tenants a copy of the record before they move in or within 28 days of when the check took place, and keep a copy for yourself for at least two years.

You should also make sure your tenants know where to turn off the gas and what to do in the event of a gas emergency.

Electrical Safety

For the electrical safety of your property, you must make sure the electrical system in your property is in safe condition. This includes things such as sockets and light fittings.

You should also ensure that all the appliances you supply, such as cookers and kettles, are safe and have the CE marking – the manufacturer’s claim that it meets all of the requirements of European law.

Using a registered electrician for work on your property and ensuring your property has adequate residual-current device protection are two of the ways you can help to ensure electrical safety for your tenants.

Fire Safety

Fire safety depends on the potential risks that your property may pose for fire hazards, which is where a fire safety assessment should be carried out.

This includes things like checking that your tenants have access to escape routes at all times, and making sure the furniture and furnishings you supply are fire safe. You should look to identify any potential fire hazard and people at risk, and then evaluate, remove or reduce and protect your tenants from those risks.

If the property you let is a large House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), then you must provide alarms and extinguishers. There’s no legal obligation in single family rentals if they’re built before June 1992. After that they should have a mains operated interlinked smoke detectors with at least one detector per floor level. Landlords are just well advised to provide them.


 

Energy Performance

 
If you’re letting out an individual house or dwelling or a self-contained flat, then an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required.

An EPC contains information about a property’s energy use and typical energy cost as well as recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money. It also gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years.

To get an EPC for the property you’re renting, you will need to find an accredited assessor to assess your property and produce the certificate. If you fail to provide an EPC or make one available when required then you face a fixed penalty of £200 per dwelling.

When advertising your property you must ensure that your advertisement includes the EPC rating and the Standard Assessment Procedure rating where an EPC is available.

Repairs

Making sure that your property is in a good condition for your tenants is important.

General Repairs

As a landlord, the responsibility is on you for repairs to the property’s structure and exterior such as the walls, roof, external doors and windows, but also for internal items such as sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings including pipes and drains.

You are also responsible for repairs to your property’s heating and hot water, as well as all gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation. Any faults with electrical wiring and any damage you cause by attempting repairs are also your responsibility.

If you provide any items or appliances with the rental property, then you are usually responsible for repairing these if a fault occurs. You are not usually responsible for appliances that your tenants have bought themselves.

You may also be responsible for repairs to common areas – for example staircases in blocks of flats, hallways and lifts. You should check your tenancy agreement if you’re unsure.

If your tenants cause damage to your property or the furniture, then they may be liable to pay for repairs; though your tenants should not usually pay for fair wear and tear during the course of their tenancy.

Repairs as a result of damp or mould

It can be difficult with damp to identify the cause, which makes it a little more challenging to work out who is responsible for any repairs in order to resolve the problem.

You are usually responsible for repairs if damp has been caused by leaking pipes, damp proofing that no longer works or a structural defect such as a crack in the wall or a leaking roof.

Mould growth and condensation can be caused by a number of reasons, such as poor design of the building, your tenants not using the heating systems properly or drying their clothes indoors without adequate ventilation of which you may not be responsible for repairing, but you may want to advise your tenants on how they can prevent the problem.

In order to help your tenants if they have issues with mould and condensation, you may consider providing an extra heater or dehumidifier, fitting ventilation or adding insulation in order to try and combat the problem. Check what has been outlined in your tenancy agreement as to whether you have to fix these issues.

You can’t force your tenants to do any of the repairs that are your responsibility.


 

Deposits

 
You must put the deposit your tenants provide in a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receiving it.

Once their tenancy ends, you must return your tenants deposit within 10 calendar days.

Should you wish to withhold some or all of the deposit for breaches of the tenancy agreement, pay for repairs to damage your tenants have caused, or to cover the cost of unpaid rent and bills, then you should discuss the matter with your tenants to reach an agreement on how the issue should be resolved. If an agreement cannot be met, you should raise a dispute with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) the deposit is held with.


Insurance

 
Because renting out a property is never risk-free, in order to protect your property investment it may be wise to consider obtaining a specialist Landlord Insurance policy.

It’s not a legal requirement but it’s a sensible and essential consideration if you’re renting out a property to ensure you’re protected should something go wrong with or at the premises. Most homeowner insurance policies don’t cover damage by a tenant or any liability issues should a tenant be injured while they are in the property.

Landlord Insurance policies include things like Public or Landlord Liability Insurance, as well as Buildings and Contents. You can also opt to include a variety of optional extras such as Loss of Rent and Alternative Accommodation cover, Property Disputes cover, and Employers Liability.

It isn’t your responsibility to insure the personal possessions of your tenants.


 

Gaining Possession

 
If you need to get your property back and are renting out your property as a private landlord on an assured shorthold tenancy, then you have a couple of routes to gaining back possession of your property from a tenant.

You can take back your property without giving any reason, but only if the following apply:

  • You’ve protected your tenants’ deposit in a deposit protection scheme
  • You’ve given your tenants at least 2 months’ written notice that you want the property back (‘notice to quit’) and the date they must leave
  • The date they must leave is at least 6 months after the original tenancy began (the one they signed on first moving in)
  • They have a periodic tenancy – or they have a fixed-term tenancy and you aren’t asking them to leave before the end of the fixed term

You will need to use one of the reasons for possession outlined in the Housing Act 1988.

If you are still in the fixed term of your tenancy agreement, then you can only ask your tenants to leave if you have a reasons for wanting possession that are in the House Act 1988, such as your tenants being behind on their rent payments or them having used your property for illegal purposes such as selling drugs.

The length of the notice period varies depending on the reason you’re using, but is usually between two weeks to two months.

You can’t remove your tenants by force. Unlawful eviction is a criminal offence. If the notice period expires and your tenants don’t leave the property, you should contact the courts start the process of eviction.