Legal Requirements for Landlords: A Checklist

Here’s what every landlord needs to know so that they’re in compliance with the law at all times.

Anyone thinking about renting out a house or flat and becoming even a casual or part-time landlord cannot go ahead without adhering to relevant laws and regulations. To ignore them might land you in a world of trouble — fines and even jail. So here at Horton and Garton, we have prepared an easy-to-follow guide on landlord safety responsibilities, so you won’t have to go scrambling around looking for all the information you need.

There are many legal requirements for landlords and it is an area of legal oversight that seems to keep on growing. Trying to keep on top of it all can be enough to put even the most enthusiastic landlord off, which is why many use a lettings agent to ensure they’re in compliance.

These are the basics of your rental safety checklist for landlords operating in England and Wales today. It applies to anyone renting out a house of flat — even if they consider it a side-job or something of a hobby. If you let a house or flat on any basis, the government considers you a fully fledged landlord.

Key Legal Requirements for Landlords

⦿ Houses and flats being rented out must be safe for tenants and not contain any kind of hazard that could cause injuries. As a main part of the requirement, landlords must ensure that all electrical equipment, gas supplies and appliances are safely installed and properly maintained.

⦿ Landlords are also legally bound to have an Energy Performance Certificate for the flat or house they are renting out. If the property is a new build, the owner or landlord may already have one, as it’s required when a property is built, sold or rented. The certificate contains information about a property’s energy costs and usage, as well as advice on how to reduce energy consumption and lower costs.

⦿ Tenants’ deposits must be protected in a government-approved scheme; there are a number of these which landlords can choose from. Landlords are only compelled to do this, however, if the tenancy is of the assured shorthold type (the most common) and began after April 6, 2007. Basically, this scheme ensures tenants get their deposit back at the end of a rental period if they have paid the rent and bills, didn’t cause any damage to the property and meet other terms of the tenant agreement.

⦿ Does your potential new tenant have the right to rent your property? That’s next on your rental safety checklist — and it’s one landlords might not think of. You must check tenants even if they’re not named on the tenancy agreement, or if there’s no agreement or none in writing. Plus, the government warns: “Check all new tenants. It’s against the law to only check people you think aren’t British citizens.” Exemptions are accommodation used for social house; a care home; a hostel or refuge; a mobile home; and student housing.

⦿ Landlords also have to give new tenants a checklist of their own — a How to Rent document that they can give them in printed or electronic form (emailed). This is to give them the full picture of what to expect now that they are a tenant and renting a property.

Essential Maintenance Tasks for Landlords

Other Legal Requirements for Landlords

Landlords big and small, professional or part-time, are also responsible for:

⦾ Installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, along with testing them regularly to ensure they’re working.

⦾ Strictly adhering to fire safety regulations for purpose-built blocks of flats or properties converted into flats.

⦾ Paying income tax on rental revenue, as well as making Class 2 National Insurance contributions if applicable.

If you’re wondering about any of these legal requirements for landlords, or would like assistance so that you’re in compliance with them, Horton and Garton is here to help. We’re experts in the management of property, so contact us now to ensure you’re always on the right side of the law.