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As a landlord, there are some legal requirements you will have to comply with. As a basic rule, you are responsible for the safety of your tenants whilst they are in your buy-to-let property.
We have provided the following guidelines to help you identify the key areas you need to be aware of. However, these guidelines are not necessarily exhaustive and no warranty is made as to the accuracy of them. If in doubt, you should consult a solicitor who specialises in legal advice for landlords.
Open House online letting agents can provide services to help you meet many of these obligations. See our Letting Services page for more information.
Landlords are required, under law to have an Energy Performance Certificate presented for the property to rent. This certificate must be duplicated and given to all persons renting in the property if a multi-tenanted dwelling.
The Energy Performance Certificate (or EPC as it is better known) rates the performance of the building in the same way as domestic appliances are now rated; from the most energy efficient down to the least efficient, and this allows the prospective tenant an insight into utility costs on that property. EPCs are valid for 10 years on rental properties.
From 6 April 2007, all deposits (for rent up to £25,000 per annum) taken by landlords and letting agents for Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England and Wales, must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. If you are not protecting a tenant’s deposit you will be ordered to repay three times the amount to the tenant so find out how you can protect deposits and resolve disputes.
How it works - At the beginning of a new tenancy agreement, the tenant pays their deposit to their landlord (or agent) as usual. The landlord (or agent) must then ensure it is protected. Landlords and agents have a choice of three schemes providers, offering two types of scheme to protect the deposit.
Money is held by the scheme until it is time for it to be repaid at the end of the tenancy. The custodial scheme is free to use. The landlord simply puts the deposit into the scheme at the beginning of the tenancy. There is one custodial scheme provider.
Under the insurance schemes the landlord keeps the deposit, and pays the insurance scheme to insure against the landlord failing to repay the tenant any money due to him. There is a choice of two insurance-based schemes. Find out more about the different TDS scheme operators.
Deposits will need to be registered with one of 3 schemes within 14 days of receipt of deposit. Failure to comply will affect your ability to remove your tenants with a Section 21 notice, and could result in you having to pay substantial compensation to your tenants. The scheme also includes a dispute resolution service.
You have duties under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 to arrange maintenance by a Gas Safe Registered engineer for all pipe work, appliances and flues, which you own and have provided for your tenants use.
You must also arrange for an annual gas safety check to be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. You must keep a record of the safety check for 2 years and issue a copy to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being completed and issue a copy to any new tenants before they move in.
Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 landlords are responsible for the basic maintenance of the property and must keep in repair; the structure and exterior if the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes), the installations in the dwelling for the supply of water, gas and electricity, sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences) and heating and heating water.
An electrical safety check must be commissioned prior to the commencement of a tenancy and must be carried out by a competent person (a Part P qualified electrician) to ensure that the electricity supply and all appliances are legal. This includes supplying instruction books where needed for safe use. The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations have been mandatory since 1st January 1997. They state that all electrical appliances with let accommodation must be safe. This applies to both new and second-hand appliances and covers all electrical items supplied for the intended use of the Tenant. The regulations also cover fixed appliances such as cookers etc. The only method of ensuring that these appliances are safe is to have them tested by a trained electrical engineer using the portable appliance testing equipment, known as a PAT test.
As a minimum, have an annual electrical safety inspection (i.e. the Enhanced Electrical inspection or”E2”), which includes the electrical equipment. Ensure any installation or maintenance works are done by Part P ‘competent persons’.
All soft furnishings must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) Safety Regulations 1988 and be fire safety compliant. Look for the fire safety label on all furnishings. For further information visit Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations.
The 2004 Housing Act requires the landlord to do several things about fire safety:
If the property is a considered to be a House in Multiple Ocupation (HMO) by your council which is subject to licensing, your landlord must also comply with license conditions in relation to fire safety.
By law, a landlord must:
All properties built since June 1992 must have interlinked mains-connected smoke detectors / alarms on each floor of the property. Older properties must be fitted with standard (battery powered) smoke detectors/alarms. Smoke alarms must be checked regularly to ensure that they are in full working order. A carbon monoxide detector should also be supplied. These can be purchased for around £5 from most DIY shops.
Certain types of shared houses (called Houses in Multiple Occupation) have to be licensed under special rules, which also require the property meets certain extra fire and electrical safety standards. These rules also set a limit to the number of people who can occupy a property. Whether or not you need to get a license depends on the size of the property and varies by council - ask your local authority’s housing department for more information.