Becoming a new landlord can open up a world of confusion with regard to rental rules and regulations. You have a number of responsibilities as a landlord, but so does your tenant, and it’s not always easy to know whose is whose. The purpose of this guide to tell you exactly what you are legally obliged to do when you start renting your property.
As landlord, you are responsible for checking the legal documents of your renters. You need to make sure that anyone you rent to has the right to rent a property in the United Kingdom, and you should make copies of the documents that prove this. A list of acceptable documents can be found on the UK government website. While you must ensure that your renters are legally residing in the UK, you must not discriminate based on nationality.
If you’re unsure about whether your renter has the right to rent in the UK, you can check with the Home Office. Just ask the renter for their Home Office reference number.
Any deposit must be kept in a government-backed tenancy deposit protection scheme.
Gas: You must make sure the gas equipment supplied to a property is safely installed and maintained by an engineer registered as "Gas Safe." You also need to make sure that a registered engineer completes an annual gas safety inspection of all gas-related appliances on the property. You should give your tenant a copy of the gas safety check record, before moving in and within 28 days of the check.
Electrical: Make sure all sockets, light fittings, electric cookers, and kettles are safe before the tenant moves in.
Fire: You should follow local and national safety regulations, and provide a smoke alarm for each storey of the property, as well as a carbon monoxide detector in any room with an in-use fireplace or wood stove. Make sure all escape routes are unblocked and accessible at all times. Furniture and furnishings should also be fire safe. Sufficient alarms and extinguishers also need to be provided for what are known as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO), or those properties with three tenants forming more than one household.
You are responsible for covering all needed repairs to the structure and exterior of the property, as well as to basins, sinks, baths, pipes and drains. In addition, heating and hot water, gas appliances, pipes, flues, ventilation, and electrical wiring are in your charge as well. You also need to repair any damage to common areas, like staircases, and any damage done while attempting other repairs.
When a tenant contacts you for repairs, you also need to give them an idea of when the work will be done; they need to continue paying rent while they’re waiting. However, if you don’t complete the repairs in a timely manner, the tenant does have the right to contact the local council.
For more information about what your responsibilities as a new landlord are, check out the Owning and Renting a Property section of the UK government website.