The UK’s private rental sector can be a minefield of regulations andd compliance requirements. For new landlords especially, navigating these requirements can be a daunting task. To help, Landlord Vision have put together a list of the 7 key compliance requirements that all landlords should know:
- Ensure that your properties are fit and safe for habitation.
- Maintain and certify your gas appliances annually.
- Ensure that your electrical appliances are safely installed and regularly tested.
- Provide new tenants with a copy of the property’s energy performance certificate (EPC).
- Register your tenant’s deposit in a government approved scheme.
- Ensure that your tenants have the right to rent.
- Provide all new tenants with a how to rent checklist.
Ensuring Your Property Is Fit for Habitation
As a landlord, your first and most important obligation should be to ensure that your properties are fit for habitation. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, came into force on 20th March 2019, making it a legal requirement that private rental properties are fit for human habitation at the beginning and throughout a tenancy.
Landlords are responsible for ensuring that their properties meet the minimum standards for human habitation. Properties must be in a good state of repairs, structurally sound, have appropriate ventilation and be free from serious damp. When considering whether a property is fit for human habitation, courts will reference section 10 of the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985, which highlights the following factors when determining whether a property is unfit for habitation:
- 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
Whilst for the most part, landlords are responsible for remedying their properties to ensure they are fit for habitation, there are some situations where this is not the case. Landlords are not required to remedy unfitness when:
- the problem is caused by tenant behaviour
- the problem is caused by events like fires, storms and floods which are completely beyond the landlord’s control (sometimes called ‘acts of God’)
- the problem is caused by the tenants’ own possessions
- the landlord hasn’t been able to get consent e.g. planning permission, permission from freeholders etc. There must be evidence of reasonable efforts to gain permission
- the tenant is not an individual, e.g. local authorities, national parks, housing associations, educational institutions
Should a property become unfit for habitation during a tenancy, landlords are only considered to be responsible from the date that they are made aware of the hazard by the tenant. It is hard to fix a problem that you are unaware of existing. However, the exception to this is in communal areas of a block of flats or a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), where landlords bare ultimate responsibility and are therefore immediately liable should a hazard occur.
The law suggests that landlords should rectify any hazards in ‘reasonable time’, a time frame which the courts are ultimately responsible for determining. However, tenants can take landlords to court should they find that their landlord is not actively taking steps towards repairing the issue.
Landlords should therefore rectify any damages that they are responsible for as soon as possible. If a tenant tells you about a problem that is in a common part of a building, then you are strongly advised to bring it to the freeholder’s attention as soon as possible.
Maintain And Test Your Gas Appliances
Landlords in the UK are required to ensure the safety of all gas appliances within a rented property. You are responsible for the maintenance and repair of flues, appliances and pipework provided for your tenants use, by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Although there is no prescribed timeframe for these duties, good practice would be the demonstration of annual maintenance checks and subsequent repairs.
It is also the responsibility of landlords to ensure that a Landlord Gas Safe Record (LGSR / CP12) is carried out within 12 months of a new installation or annually thereafter. This certificate must be issued by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. You can check that an engineer is Gas Safe registered by searching for their name, company, or registration number on the Gas Safe Register website. 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. The LGSR must also be provided to any new tenants before they move in.
You can read more about your gas safety requirements here: What Do Landlords Need To Know About Gas Safety Regulations?
Test And Certify Your Electrical Installations
As of April 2021, landlords are legally required to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested by a person who is qualified and competent, at an interval of at least every 5 years. You have to provide a copy of the electrical safety report to your tenants, and to your local authority if requested.
Landlords are expected to obtain an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) for their properties. Failing to do so can result in fines of up to £30,000. The reports themselves are designed to test and ensure the safety of all the electrical fixtures and fittings provided by a landlord, with a typical report covering a property’s wiring, light fittings, fuse boxes and power sockets. If a landlord provides any appliances to the tenant, they are responsible for checking they are safe. This may require a portable appliance test (PAT).
You must always have access to an up-to-date copy of your property’s EICR. Similarly, tenants have a right to a copy of the current EICR and this must be provided to them within 28 days of the checks being carried out. An EICR should also be provided to all new tenants before they move into a property. Should the inspection flag up any issues or hazards, landlords must ensure that they are remedied within 28 days.
You can read more about electrical safety tests here: 5-Year Electrical Safety Checks Mandatory from July 2020
Provide An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) For Your Property
Landlords and letting agents are prohibited from letting out a property that does not hold a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Failure to carry out or provide an appropriate EPC can result in fines of up to £5,000 from your local authority.
Energy Performance Certificates are used to provide tenants and home buyers with information about the relative energy costs of a building. The certificate will apply a rating from A to G to the property, with A being the highest rating and indicating that the property has great energy efficiency. The certificates will also include suggestions for landlords and homeowners as to how they can improve the energy efficiency of their properties.
Landlords are not only responsible for ensuring that their properties have an up-to-date EPC, but also that their properties meet the governments minimum EPC requirements. The Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) Regulations set a minimum energy efficiency level for domestic private rented properties. Since 1 April 2020, landlords can no longer let or continue to let properties covered by the MEES Regulations if they have an EPC rating below E, unless they have a valid exemption in place. If you are currently planning to let a property with an EPC rating of F or G, you need to improve the property’s rating to E, or register an exemption, before you enter into a new tenancy. If you are currently letting a property with an EPC rating of F or G, and you haven’t already taken action, you must improve the property’s rating to E immediately, or register an exemption.
You can read more about minimum energy efficiency standards here:
You can also read more about EPC’s and how they affect your properties here:
Register Deposits in A Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) Scheme
As a landlord, you must ensure that you protect your tenant’s deposits by registering them within one of the government-approved schemes within 30 days of receiving them. At the end of the tenancy, you must return the deposit within 10 days of both landlord and tenant agreeing how much will be returned. Failure to do so can leave landlords liable to pay up to three times the value of the deposit to tenants in compensation.
Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) Schemes can be split into two categories, custodial or insurance based:
Custodial schemes are those in which a landlord hands over the entire deposit to a scheme for ‘safe keeping’ for the duration of the tenancy. At the end of the tenancy, the administrator refunds the full deposit or the agreed amount to the tenant directly. Any disagreements surrounding deductions can be referred to the schemes dispute resolution service.
Insurance-based schemes are those in which the landlord holds onto the deposit during the tenancy. Landlords are prohibited from using this money to cover their own expenses as the funds legally belong to the tenant. If there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy, landlords should hand over the disputed amount to the protection scheme.
Landlords can choose whether to protect their tenant’s deposit in a custodial or insurance-based scheme. In England and Wales deposits can be registered with:
- Deposit Protection Service (Custodial and Insured)
- MyDeposits (Insured)
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme (Insured).
You can read more about the approved government deposit schemes here:
Confirm That Tenants Have the Right to Rent
As a landlord in the UK, you are required by law to ensure that your tenants have the right to reside in the UK before providing them with rented accommodation. You are expected to verify the immigration status of each and every adult proposing to occupy your property. Whilst the checks themselves are relatively simple, failure to adhere to the rules can result in fines of up to £3,000.
Prospective tenants have the right to rent a residential property in the UK if any of the following apply to them:
- They are a British citizen.
- They have permission to be in the UK, including both work and student visas.
- They have indefinite leave to remain in the UK or have settled status.
- They are considered to have a refugee status or have humanitarian protection.
- The Home Office has granted a time-limited right to rent.
- If a tenant has documentation which indicates they meet one or more of these criteria, they can be deemed as having the right to rent in the UK.
You can check a prospective tenant’s right to rent manually or through the Home Office’s online checking services. Manual checks require landlords to obtain, check and record documents proving a person’s right to rent in the UK. The online service can be accessed on the Home Office website, however, it relies on prospective tenants opting to share their right to rent status with landlords.
You can read more about Right to Rent here:
Providing Tenants with a How to Rent Checklist
Landlords entering an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) – the most common type of tenancy agreement in England and Wales – must provide their tenants with a copy of the government’s ‘How to Rent’ checklist. The checklist is designed to help tenants understand what their rights and responsibilities are when renting a property. The guide can be provided to tenants as a printed copy or, with the tenant’s permission, via email as a PDF attachment.
The ‘How to Rent’ checklist can be found on the government website here: How to rent
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