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.
A inspection of all gas appliances that is provided with in the property by the landlord must be inspected annually by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer. After inspection a warranted Gas Safety Certificate will be issued for proof of inspection; both tenant and landlord should keep a copy.
New tenants should receive a copy of the certificate BEFORE they are given the keys and occupy the premises, while existing tenants of premises should be served a copy within 28 days of the date of the check (unless the property is without gas).
This area of law is covered by both the Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Landlords are under a common law duty to ensure that the property they provide is safe. All residential properties in England and Wales should comply with building regulations.
Furniture provided by the landlord must meet the fire resistance requirements in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.
Furnishings and upholstered furniture supplied by landlords must meet fire resistance requirements, which includes:
Furniture manufactured since March 1989 will comply with these regulations and most will be marked with a label showing compliance.
The regulations do not apply to:
Non-compliance with the above regulations is a criminal offence and carries penalties of a £5,000 fine, 6 month’s imprisonment, or both. In the event of a death, charges could extend to manslaughter.
Landlords in England are required, from 1 October 2015, to:
The landlord is responsible for the structure and exterior of the property; baths, sinks and other sanitary items; heating and hot water installations.
However, this only applies if the tenant has a fixed tenancy contract for under 7 years, else these issues become the tenants responsibility. The landlord is not responsible for damages caused by the tenants.
Under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, the landlord is responsible to:
Every electrical appliance supplied by the landlord must be safe to use; the electrical installation in the house must be completely safe.
Unlike the Gas Safety Regulations, there is no mandatory requirement for the equipment to undergo any safety testing, but that should NOT be an incentive to be careless.
Although there is no requirement for equipment to be checked, it’s recommended for every landlord to check all electrical appliances and electrics before the start of a tenancy and regularly thereafter.
The following guidelines apply to all electrical appliances supplied for the tenancy:
This regulation requires that any plug, socket or adapter supplied for intended domestic use complies with the appropriate current standard, and specifically that:
Before letting a property, landlords must obtain permission and/or inform the following:
Sections 79, 80 and 81 of the Housing Act 2004 provide for the introduction of a “landlord licensing” scheme.
Landlords with properties in selective areas are required to get a “landlord license” from their local council before being permitted to let their property. These areas are selected based on low demand for housing and significant or persistent anti-social behaviour problems. Failing to do so can result in punishable fines of up to £20,000.
To qualify for a licence a landlord must be able to demonstrate that they are acting within the law and taking appropriate steps to manage their properties, which is defined by the local council. If you’re unsure if your property is in a landlord license zone, you can call your local council or speak to local letting agents.
Landlords must secure their tenants deposits into one of three government approved Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) schemes with in 30 days of receiving the deposit, and they must also serve their tenants with Prescribed Information related to the deposit, within 30 days.
Over the years a lot of tenants have complained that they have unfairly lost their security deposit, and consequently the government introduced the deposit legislation to help apply protection and unbiased moderation to the disputes. For more in-depth details about this ‘landlord obligation’, please go to my Tenancy Deposit Protection Easy Guide article.
Failure to comply can lead to financial penalties, and also impede on your ability to repossess your property, which means you may not be able to repossess your property unless you have grounds for eviction e.g. the tenant falls into rent arrears.
Being a landlord is like any other profiteering business, which means any profit made is subject to taxation.
Generally speaking, this can work in two ways…
Needless to say, it’s always best to discuss your finances with a specialist tax accountant.
Landlords must provide an Energy Performance Certificate to all new and prospective tenants during the viewing, or at least before the tenancy agreements are signed.
The certificate will give each building a SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure – out of 100 possible) rating, and this will equate to an energy rating from A to G, similar to those seen on white goods. For those who don’t speak geek, in English it means, it reports the energy efficiency levels of a property, so tenants can assess how much they will need to spend on utility bills e.g. heating.
A certificate is valid for 10 years, and then property needs to be reassessed again and issued with a new and valid certificate.
Word of warning, from April 2018, properties rented out in the private rented sector will be required to have a minimum energy performance rating of E. The regulations will apply to new lets and renewals of tenancies, and will apply to all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020. It will be against the law to rent a property which has a rating lower than E, unless there is an applicable exemption.
This is a bit of an odd one. It’s fairly new, and probably the most unknown and neglected legal requirement.
The person responsible for managing the property, whether it be the Landlord or letting agent, is responsible for combating Legionnaires Disease.
Health and safety legislation requires that risk assessments for the Legionella bacteria which cause Legionnaires’ disease are taken. The assessments must identify and assess potential sources of exposure, and steps taken to prevent/control any risk that is identified.
Anyone can be appointed to assess/monitor Legionella as long as they have the relevant skills to implement the control measures and strategies i.e. they are suitably informed, instructed, trained and assessed. There must be evidence to show that the risk assessment has taken place, and records showing what precautions were taken.
Under Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014, Landlords in England should not authorise an adult to occupy property as their only or main home under a residential tenancy agreement unless the adult is a British citizen, or EEA or Swiss national, or has a “right to rent” in the UK.
You can use this tool provided by the GOV to check if the legislation currently applies to you.
Essentially, the landlord is required to check for proof of ID and citizenship. More details can be found on the landlord ‘Right to rent’ guide, including how to fully comply.
Landlords should provide their tenants with a document titled “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”, as published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, at the beginning of new tenancies that start on or after October 2015 in England only.
It’s important to note that the guide will get updated over time, so you need to provide your tenants with the most up to date version at the time the tenancy begins. If a ‘new’ tenancy agreement is granted with the same tenants and a new version of the guide has been released, you should supply a copy of the latest version.
Serving the booklet isn’t a legal requirement, however, it is part of the ‘Deregulation Act 2015’ (more on that below), and failing to comply can impede on your ability to repossess your property.
You can either email your tenants a copy or provide them with a hard copy (i.e. provide them with a printed version).
GDPR came into effect on the 25th May 2018, and it applies to ALL landlords.
In laymen’s terms, GDPR is a new set of rules designed to give EU citizens more control over their personal data.
Essentially, as landlords, we need to process and control our tenants information in a transparent fashion, which includes explaining:
Under the Data Protection Act individuals and organisations that process personal information need to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Basically, if you store, use or delete personal information of your tenant(s) (e.g. name, email, telephone, address etc.) on any electrical device (i.e. computer, phone or tablet) – which is almost all landlords in the 20th century- then you should be registered with the ICO. You can register here.
Registration currently costs £35-40 per year (depending on payment method).
There are a few exemptions, but it most likely won’t apply to you. If you want to double check, you can use this tool on the ICO website that will help you determine whether you not to register or not.
On a sidenote, from my experience 1) most landlords aren’t aware of this requirement so aren’t registered 2) many of those that are aware of the ICO don’t think it’s even necessary for landlords to register – there’s a bit of an ongoing debate among landlords on the issue.
One thing is for sure, I’ve yet to hear of a case where a landlord has been prosecuted for failing to registered. But that’s not to say it’s NOT required.
I want to end on a quick note, which isn’t really a legal obligation, but more so a consequence of not complying with some of requirements above.
Providing that you abide by all the applicable requirements listed on this page, you should already be complying with the requirements of the ‘Deregulation Act 2015‘. The Act was introduced in October 2015 to protect tenants from unfair eviction and to ensure landlords have complied with certain legal responsibilities.
To comply with the Deregulation Act 2015, landlords must have:
As said, I have already discussed everything mentioned in that list, but just so you know, if you fail to comply with the above, it may impede on your ability to serve a valid section 21 notice, which means you may not be able to repossess your property unless you have grounds for eviction e.g. if your tenant falls into arrears.
In laymen’s terms, that means, you may be stuck with tenants unless they give you a valid reason to evict them, or until they wish to leave.