If you own a property in England and you’re considering renting it out, our summary of landlords’ responsibilities to tenants will help you understand the most important things you need to do.
NB: The following applies to private landlords in England; for more detailed information which covers a wider range of circumstances, please visit GOV.uk.
Landlord responsibilities: Admin
You must check that your tenant (anyone aged 18+ who pays to use your property as their main home) has the right to rent your property by asking them for original documents which prove they can live in the UK and then completing an online questionnaire on the GOV.uk website.
There are a number of important documents which will need to be drawn up and given to the tenants, including:
- a tenancy agreement (the contract which gives the tenant the right to live in your property and you the right to receive rent from them).
- an inventory of everything provided with the property, e.g. furniture and appliances.
- an Energy Performance Certificate, to show how energy efficient the property is
You must also give your tenant a copy of the government’s how to rent checklist and protect your tenant’s deposit by putting it in a government-backed scheme within 30 days of receipt.
Landlord responsibilities: Safety
One of your most important responsibilities is to make sure that the property is safe and free from health hazards – including (but not limited to) making sure that:
- all gas and electrical systems are properly installed and regularly maintained according to the applicable safety regulations
- all gas and electrical appliances you provide (e.g. ovens and kettles) are safe
- all furniture and furnishings you provide are fire safe
- smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are fitted and regularly tested
- tenants have access to escape routes at all times.
Your local council could decide to do a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) inspection if they have reason to believe that your property may be hazardous, for example, if your tenants have requested an inspection. If a serious hazard is found, the council can issue you with an improvement notice, do the work required and bill you for the cost, or even stop you/your tenants from using part or all of the property.
Landlord responsibilities: Repairs
Many things can go wrong on a property and it’s your responsibility to keep it in good condition – including any repairs which may be required to:
- the structure of your property (interior and exterior)
- basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings (including pipes and drains)
- heating and hot water systems
- gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
- electrical wiring.
It’s important to stay on top of any repairs because if you don’t, your tenants can request an HHSRS inspection or even start small claims proceedings.