Landlord Obligations

At Eastern Landlords Association, we take being a landlord very seriously, and we know that, as a landlord, you will face a lot of responsibilities. There are many landlord obligations that you must abide by when you rent out a property, which, if aren’t met, could lead to legal action and hefty fines. In England and Wales, there are many landlord obligations that you must abide by when you rent out a property, which, if aren’t met, could lead to legal action and hefty fines.

Eastern Landlords Association are here to ensure that our members are aware of all the relevant landlord obligations. We can then provide you with the necessary advice to legally comply with those landlord obligations.

Your Obligations as a Landlord include:

Safety

Gas Safety

If there is a gas supply at your property, you must have an annual gas inspection and a gas safety certificate supplied to the tenants. The gas safety inspector will often provide the report after inspection, but it is your responsibility to ensure that this happens.

A gas safety inspection will check that all the gas appliances, installations, pipes and air vents are all in working order. If the property has solid fuel heating, you will also be required to fit carbon monoxide detectors.

Electrical Safety

All electrical fittings must be safe throughout the tenancy. This includes sockets, lighting and any electrical appliances that you provide. In addition, all devices must have a CE mark, which is the manufacturer’s declaration that the appliance is compliant with European law. Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs) are now a legal requirement for all rental properties and should be done every five years.

As a landlord of an HMO (house in multiple occupation), you must have an electrical safety test every five years. You are not legally bound to have electrical safety or PAT (portable appliance) tests for non-HMO properties, but it is good practice to do so.

Fire Safety

Your fire safety obligations as a landlord include:

  1. Ensure your property has accessible escape routes at all times.
  2. Provide furniture and furnishings that are fire safe. This is not applicable in non-furnished properties, but any fittings in the property must be safe.
  3. Ensure smoke alarms are fitted. Carbon monoxide detectors should also be fitted if the property has solid fuel heating. Smoke alarms must be fitted on every floor of the property, and carbon monoxide detectors must be in every room with fuel-burning devices.

Paperwork

Deposit Protection

You must protect your tenant’s deposit in one of three Government approved tenancy deposit schemes:

In conjunction with this, you must also:

  1. Protect the tenant’s deposit within 30 days. Failure to do this could lead to a fine of up to three times the deposit amount.
  2. Provide the tenants with a copy of the deposit registration certificate, the Prescribed Information (paperwork related to deposit protection) and terms & conditions of the deposit scheme used.

In addition to be liable for a fine, if you do not protect the deposit, you will be unable to issue your tenants with a Section 21 Notice, should you ever need to.

Energy Performance

Private landlords are legally obliged to provide tenants with a valid energy performance certificate (EPC). If you fail to do so, you cannot rent out your property and could be liable for a £200 fine. It is also now a legal requirement that to rent a property the EPC must be an E or above, unless the property has a valid exemption.

An EPC details the energy efficiency of your property as well as the possible ways to improve this. Investing in your property to make it more energy-efficient is more attractive to tenants and reduces their utility bills.

An EPC certificate must be provided by a qualified assessor and lasts ten years.

‘How to Rent’ Guide

Before your tenants move in, you must provide them with a copy of the Government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide. This lists both your obligations and your tenants’ obligations and rights.

This guide can be provided either as a hard copy or via email. As with deposit protection, you must provide this guide, or you will be unable to issue a Section 21 notice if required in the future.

Right to Rent

If you rent a property to someone without the right to rent, you could face prosecution, custodial sentence and/or a fine of up to £3000 per tenant that you have housed.

The Gov.uk website provides a guide on the checks that you should carry out. You should also keep copies of any documentation that proves a tenants right to rent in the UK.

 

Admin

Paying Tax

You are legally obliged to report rental income to HMRC. Not declaring this can lead to hefty fines or even imprisonment. If completing a self-assessment tax return is new for you, we can advise or put you in touch with tax specialists.

If you live abroad but own and rent out a UK property, you must still declare rental income and pay the required tax unless you have an exemption certificate.

Many of your landlord expenses are tax-deductible, which in turn reduces the final amount of income tax that you will need to pay.

Licensing and Permission

If you own a property’s leasehold rather than the freehold, you must have the permission of the freeholder to rent out the property.

Also, if there is an outstanding mortgage on the property, you must advise your mortgage provider of your intention to let the property. You will need to switch your mortgage to a buy-to-let product, which may have specific terms and conditions, such as having rent protection insurance and a landlord insurance policy.

In some locations in the UK, you also require a landlord license to rent out a property. If you are an HMO landlord, you may need an HMO license if five or more unrelated people are renting. Selective licensing is a growing trend with local authorities. If you would like further advice on this, please get in touch with us.

Condition and Repairs

Condition

As a landlord, you must ensure that your property:

  • Is structurally sound and free from major disrepair.
  • Has no damp that could be considered hazardous to health.
  • Has a water supply, adequate drainage, suitably located toilet, bath or shower and washbasin.
  • Has proper lighting, heating and ventilation .

Repairs

The Government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide and your Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) will summarise your repair obligations, but the repairs that a landlord is always obliged to complete are:

  • Structural repairs both internally and externally.
  • Repairs to wash basins, sinks, baths and fittings including pipes and drains.
  • Repairs to heating and hot water systems.
  • Repairs to gas devices, flues, pipes and ventilation. It is not acceptable to wait for the next gas inspection if you are aware of something that requires repair.
  • Repairs to electrical fixtures and fittings.

If you fail your landlord obligations with regards to property condition or repairs, your tenants can report you to the local council, who can in turn force you to make repairs via an improvement notice under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

It may be tempting to think that repairs can wait, but please don’t. If the issues become worse, they’ll cost you more money, and you will also be unable to serve a Section 21 Notice for six months if a tenant has complained and you are issued with an improvement notice.

Legionella Risk Assessment

Legionella is a potentially fatal disease caused by inhaling small droplets of water contaminated with the Legionella bacteria. The conditions required for Legionella to grow includes a suitable growth temperature range, water droplets that are produced and dispersed, water that is stored and re-circulated and ‘food’, such as rust or scale, which feeds the organism. These conditions will cause the bacteria to multiply and increase exposure risk. Legionella can develop in any type or size of a man-made hot or cold water system, so this risk needs to be managed.

The Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) states that a landlord is responsible for assessing the risk of exposure to Legionella for their tenants. Generally, the risk is relatively low in residential properties due to the regular use of water and occupant turnover. Most residential properties also do not have stored water tanks, and the main water outlets are toilets and sinks.

Carrying out a simple assessment of the property water and heating supply will most likely demonstrate low risk, and no further action will be required. Other simple steps you can take include:

  • Set certain parameters, i.e. the hot water cylinder temperature must be 60o
  • Flush the system before letting the property.
  • Ensure cold water tanks have a correctly fitting lid to prevent debris from getting in.
  • Remove any pipework no longer in use.
  • Fit a combi boiler or electric shower, so there is no water storage.

We would also recommend that you discuss the risks of Legionella with your tenants and ask them not to change the temperature settings on the hot water cylinder, clean shower and tap heads regularly and report any issues as soon as possible.

The risk of Legionella is reduced by regular use of a water system, so if your tenant is leaving the property vacant for some time, they should inform you. If the water system is not used for more than a week, you should consider draining or flushing the system.

A landlord is not required to produce or obtain a Legionella test certificate, and there is no requirement for annual retesting. The guidance is to carry out assessments periodically, perhaps at the same time as the gas safety check or when you have a change of tenants. A landlord is liable if a tenant contracts Legionella due to the property’s water system, so it is important that you manage the risks.

You are able to carry out the assessment yourself, but if you feel unable to do this, we can put you in contact with the relevant experts.

If you would like more information on what landlord obligations you need to legally comply with, our experienced staff can be contacted Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm via phone or email.

If you’d like more information on membership, contact us today.