Why You Need to Know Your Obligations as a Landlord
The Importance of Knowing Your Landlord Obligations
Renting a property out to tenants carries with it a list of complex duties and responsibilities that a landlord must comply with. Failure to adhere to such obligations can have grave consequences and as such, it is important for landlords to remain aware and up to date on these obligations.
First and foremost, even before a Tenancy Agreement is entered, the landlord must undertake the right to rent checks on prospective tenants to ensure that the tenants hold the right to live in the UK legally. This means that the landlord is obliged to have sight of the relevant immigration documents to evidence legal status. This means taking photocopies of passports and any Biometric Residence Permits which must be stored safely; the same must be done for anyone living in the property with the tenant. If it transpires later that a landlord failed to undertake the right to rent checks properly, he/she could face a fine of up to £3,000 per tenant. This requirement has been imposed by the Home Office as a method of migration control and to tackle the issue of non-EEA nationals living in the UK without legal status.
If you intend to carry out the right to rent checks as outlined above and require further guidance, please contact us today for a confidential discussion on your matter.
The landlord is also obliged to provide their tenants with the Government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide found on the Government website. The guide outlines the obligations and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant; this obligation should not be taken lightly as the failure to provide the relevant documents will prevent a landlord from issuing a Section 21 notice which is required in order to terminate a tenancy agreement.
There are also gas, electricity and fire safety checks that a landlord is legally obliged to undertake. If the property has a gas supply, the landlord must arrange a gas inspection every year without fail and provide the tenant with a gas safety certificate. However, it should be noted that the inspection can only be undertaken by a registered engineer with the correct qualifications.
In terms of electrical safety, all the plug sockets and electrical appliances must also be checked however, only appliances provided by the landlord as part of the tenancy agreement. It is important to ensure that appliances are compliant with the relevant regulations set out by European law; this can be confirmed by ensuring that all devices used contain the CE mark.
Fire safety is a very serious obligation and landlords must therefore, ensure that the safety of their tenants is priority. All properties must have fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors properly fitted. In addition, the relevant smoke alarms must be fitted on every floor and the carbon monoxide detectors must be present in all rooms that contain a fuel burning device. These steps are vital in ensuring that a landlord’s fire safety obligations are met adequately.
Further to the above, a landlord has a legal obligation to supply tenants with an energy performance certificate (EPC) which outlines the energy efficiency of the property and is a good indicator of the amount of energy used and the costs. The failure to provide an energy performance certificate can lead to a fine of up to £200 which has to be settled.
The above obligations are the most serious which require priority and must be undertaken in accordance with the relevant regulations. A landlord is also obliged to protect a tenant’s deposit by utilising one of the tenancy deposit schemes approved by the Government. However, this is only required for properties rented out after 6 April 2007 under an assured shorthold tenancy agreement. The purpose of the tenancy deposit scheme is to ensure that tenants receive their deposit following the termination of their tenancy if the tenants have not damaged the property, settled all rent payments and adhered to the terms of the tenancy agreement.
It is important that landlords protect their tenant’s deposits within 30 days and also provide a copy of the relevant deposit registration certificate to their tenants. Any failure to place the deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme within the 30 day timeframe, could result in a fine and more significantly, will prevent a landlord from issuing tenants with a section 21 notice to terminate a tenancy.
A landlord is also obligated to ensure that the property is in decent condition and that the property has an adequate water supply, toilet and bathroom. Additionally, it is the landlord’s obligation to ensure that the property has sufficient heating, lighting and air.
Finally, landlords must also meet their tax obligations by declaring any income earned by renting their property; this must be declared to HMRC by completing a self-assessment tax return.