Landlord Responsibilities and Legal Obligations: The Checklist

We've compiled an essential checklist of landlord responsibilities and obligations that every property investor needs to be familiar with.

Landlord Tenant Law

Prior to letting out your property, it is crucial to familiarise yourself with your legal obligations as a landlord. Neglecting to do so may result in prosecution, substantial fines, and, more importantly, jeopardize the safety of your tenants.

In this article, we have assembled a compilation of essential regulations that all private residential landlords in England and Wales must adhere to before leasing their property to tenants. Please note that this list is not exhaustive but serves as a guideline for key requirements.

The Checklist: Essential Landlord Legal Responsibilities

Before renting out your property to tenants you need to ensure you are familiar with all of the landlord legal requirements surrounding the following:

Below we go into greater detail and share helpful informational links.

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Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

It’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide an up-to-date, energy performance certificate to all new and prospective tenants before any tenancy agreement is signed. It’s good practice to be open and upfront with your EPC rating, especially if it’s good, as some tenants prefer more economical properties.

EPCs are valid for 10 years. However, if energy efficiency improvements are made, you can apply for a new EPC and achieve a better overall grade. Currently, all properties are required to have an EPC rating of at least an E.

Recent documentation from the UK Government has suggested raising this minimum EPC requirement as early as 2025.

Read here to find out more about how you can improve your EPC rating.

Electrical Safety for Appliances

Landlord’s are required to ensure that all appliances provided within the property are in safe, working condition. There are currently no requirements for any reports or specific checks for these electrical appliances. However, if they are faulty and do endanger your attendance, you could find yourself liable. So every appliance should be regularly tested and checked.

Electrical Safety Standards Inspection Report

As of July 2020, it is one of the landlord’s responsibilities in England to ensure that the national standards for electrical safety are met. In order to comply with this legal obligation to meet the electrical safety standard regulation, landlords need to ensure that fixed electrical installations such as wiring and socket outlets are inspected and tested by a qualified electrical engineer at least every five years.

With this testing, the landlord will receive an electrical installation condition report (EICR) as proof that their electrical installations are tested and safe. Landlords must give a copy of this EICR to the tenant before they occupy the premises.

Find out more about landlord electrical safety regulations and EICR’s here.

Plugs and Sockets Safety Regulations

All plugs and sockets need to comply with the appropriate current standards and safety specifications. Live and neutral pins on plugs must be partly insulated to prevent shocks when removing the plug from sockets, and all plugs should be pre-wired.

As with checking the electrical safety of appliances in your property, you need to be sure that all plugs and sockets are in safe working order. Generally, it is recommended to get an assessment from a qualified electrician.

Gas Safety Check

Landlords are required to get an annual gas safety check, which should be provided by a Gas Safe engineer. This safety inspection will assess all gas appliances, pipework, flues, etc, in the property and ensure they are in safe working order. If they’re not, the engineer will instruct you on remedies that need to be taken carried out as soon as possible.

This certificate needs to be renewed every 12 months and a copy is given to existing tenants within 28 days of getting a check and to new tenants at the start of the tenancy.

Find out more about gas safety and gas safety certificates here.

Landlord Responsibilities: Fire Safety

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

In order to better protect tenants from the dangers of household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, landlords in the private rental sector in England are required to comply with the following rules:

  • have at least one smoke alarm installed on every story of their rental property,
  • have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation which contains a fixed/fixed combustion appliance,
  • and ensure that all alarms are in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins.
  • and ensure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are repaired or replaced once informed and found that they are faulty, which must be carried out by or on behalf of the landlord as soon as reasonably practicable.

For houses of multiple occupations, there are additional rules associated with the number and placement of fire and carbon monoxide alarms.

Find out more about fire safety regulations for landlords and rental poroperties here.

Furniture and Furnishings Regulation

Any and all furniture that is provided by the landlord needs to meet the fire resistance requirements as laid out in the Furniture and Furnishings Regulations of 1988.

This includes furniture items such as beds and mattresses, sofas, garden furniture, cushion etc.

Tenancy Deposit Management

All tenancy deposits need to be placed with a tenancy deposit protection scheme. Once the deposit is secured, you must provide information about the deposit and where it has been secured to your tenants. Often this information is included in the tenancy agreement, however, you can supply it on a separate form if you prefer.

The deposit needs to go into the tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of the landlord receiving the deposit. There are currently three government-approved schemes:

Find out more about government approved tenancy deposit schemes here.

Landlord Selective Licences

Depending on the location of your buy to let property, you may need to get a landlord licence from the local authorities.

Before renting your property then, you will want to double-check with your local council for confirmation as to whether or not your property falls into a licenced controlled area.

Legionnaires Disease

One of the landlord responsibilities that many new investors don’t realise is carrying out a risk assessment of the property for Legionella bacteria. This bacteria causes Legionnaires disease and the assessment should identify the potential sources of exposure and steps that can be taken to prevent or control any risk that may be identified.

Learn more about landlord responsibilities regarding Legionnaires Disease.

Right to Rent Checks

Landlords in England and Wales cannot legally let their property to someone who doesn’t have the ‘right to rent’ in the country.

Landlords should be familiar with what this means and must conduct a right to rent check on all tenants before a tenancy agreement is signed.

The right to rent check requires landlords to check for proof of ID and citizenship or ensure that the prospective tenant has a legitimate visa allowing them to stay in the country long term and rent a property.

Find out more about the landlord’s right to rent check guide here.

“How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”

The government requires landlords to give their tenants a document entitled “How to rent: the checklists for renting in England” to all tenants at the beginning of new tenancies. This applies to tenancies that start on or after 2015 October and in England only.

This guide can be shared with your tenant via email, or you can give them a physical copy. The most recent guide can be downloaded from the government website here.

Learn more about “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England”.

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We hope you found this blog interesting! However, do note that the information in this article does not constitute advice. This blog is for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for competent legal and/or other advice from a licensed professional.