The Landlord Rules and Regulations Checklist




13 February 2018

Becoming a landlord is a minefield of legislation, obligations and regulations. If there’s one thing that puts people off letting out a property, it’s going through all the hassle of making sure every section, paragraph and sub-section of the law is adhered to. Luckily, the online letting agents here at LetBritain are experts on the detail and nuance of landlord legislation, and we’ve put together this guide to help you become landlord legislation literate in no time.

Right to rent immigration checks

Since February 2016, the ‘right to rent’ section of the 2014 Immigration Act has been enforceable across the whole of the UK. Section 21 of the Act mandates that landlords should check that their tenants have legal residency status here in the UK before renting them a property.

In practice, this means that landlords are looking for proof that their tenants fall into one or more of the categories below:

  • British citizens
  • European Union citizens
  • European Economic Area (EEA) citizens
  • Swiss national citizens
  • Citizens of any other country or territory with the relevant valid visa and the right to rent in the UK.

In most cases, this will just involve the landlord doing a simple check of identifications and, if necessary residency papers. Our membership of the European Union currently gives automatic residency to holders of EU, EEA or Swiss passports, so if somebody has a passport from any of these countries, you won’t need to take the checks any further.

This is likely to change after Brexit, however, so landlords are advised to pay attention to current political and legal developments.

Checking whether somebody has a valid visa can be tricky and there is a lot of debate about whether or not this responsibility should even sit with landlords in the first place. Regardless, this is the current state of the law at the moment. At least there are some tools out there to help you, such as this government tool which helps you determine whether someone has the right to rent, based on the relevant papers they produce.

Energy performance certificate

2018 is a year of changing Energy Efficiency Regulations. Until April 2018, the law states that landlords must provide a valid Energy Efficiency Certificate for their property. This will remain true after April but things will go a stage further.

Landlords who sign new tenancy agreements after April must ensure that their property is certified at an Energy Efficiency Rating of ‘E’ or higher. The legislation will be extended to all existing tenancies by 2020.

Deposit protection scheme

It’s not a legal requirement to take a deposit – but it’s generally a pretty good idea. And if you do – it is a legal requirement to hold the money in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). In England and Wales, there are three government-backed tenancy deposit schemes in which you can secure the deposit. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose, but it does have to be one them.

As well as holding the deposit, these schemes also ensure the deposit is returned to the tenant if there are no grounds for it being kept, and will judge how much of the deposit the landlord is entitled to keep if there are.

Landlord licensing and permission

In certain areas, landlords must get legal permission from the local authority before renting out their property. This is usually done on a council-by-council basis – so it’s not always clear whether you are affected or not. You should check with your local council before renting out your property.

Councils often charge a fee and undertake a series of checks on the property to ensure that it meets the legal safety standards required to be rented out.

Depending on your circumstances, there will likely be other people whose permission you require before becoming a landlord. If your property is under the management of a housing association, or is a leasehold property, you’ll have to get permission from the relevant person or organisation that owns the whole building.

Most landlords will also require get permission from their mortgage lender and insurance provider, the latter of whom will have to agree to maintain coverage during the tenancy. 

If you…

You need permission to let from…

Want to rent a property in certain local council areas

The council via a landlord license

have other adults (who aren’t already tenants) living in the property you want to rent

The adults in the property

Used a mortgage to buy the house

The mortgage provider

Have home insurance

The home insurance provider

Want to rent a leasehold property

The leaseholder

Want to rent a housing association managed property

The housing association

 

Safety and maintenance legislation

A range of safety regulations mandate what a landlord is responsible for maintaining in their rented property. They cover everything from plug sockets to fire resistant sofas.

Many of the regulations seem like fairly common sense to the average tenant or landlord, but as is often the case, a few rogues intent on finding loopholes make three times as much paper, rules, and stress for the rest of us.

Here’s a quick look at some of the legislation that defines your responsibilities.

The Plugs and Sockets Act 1994

You’ll be happy to hear that this one will take you about five minutes to check. The main obligation here dictates that any plug sockets in the UK should have part-insulation on the live and neutral plug pins. That’s the two short pins at the bottom of the plug – and they should be wrapped in something that resembles electric tape for about the bottom third of the pin.

Since this is a requirement for all UK plugs, chances are they’ll have the insulation anyway – but it’s your responsibility to check.

If not – make sure they’re replaced before the tenant moves in.

The Electric Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1988

This dictates that electrical appliances in the household should be safe to use. Again, a fairly obvious point to reasonable landlords everywhere, this includes such responsibilities as making sure live wires and electrics aren’t left exposed and making sure heaters and similar appliances are serviced annually.

As well as this, there are certain slightly less obvious points. For example, fireguards and fire extinguishers need to be marked with specific safety guarantees and appliances should be free from corrosion.

Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

Section 11 of the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act outlines which parts of the building the landlord is responsible for maintaining. In short, this means anything related to the exterior of the building, or the gas, water, electricity and sanitation installations.

Get more help and advice from the online letting agents at LetBritain

Try as we might – we haven’t quite managed to tell you absolutely everything you need to know about being a landlord in this guide. There’s quite a bit to it, you see!

But you’ll also be happy to hear that our online letting agent’s legal library has a whole range of other helpful explainers, checklists and document templates to get your tenancy agreement up and running in no time. And letting your property with LetBritain will save you thousands compared to using a high street letting agent. So what are you waiting for?