LEGAL MUSTS FOR LANDLORDS AND LETTING AGENTS
Where there are any gas appliances in the property provided by the landlord, the landlord must ensure that annual gas safety checks are carried out. These checks must be carried out by a gas fitter/engineer who is registered on the Gas Safety Register (which has replaced Corgi). A copy must be given to the tenant before the tenant moves in and the check must have been carried out within the 12 months before the new tenant takes up occupation. Checks must be done annually at no more than 12 month intervals and copies of all certificates for checks must be handed over to the tenant. If landlords fail to do this they may lose their Section 21 rights in England as of 1st October 2015. For further details on gas certification click here.
Fire Safety Order
Where a landlord controls flats, bedsits or hostels there must be a risk assessment in place to comply with the Fire Safety Order. It should be in writing. A statutory risk assessment is not required for shared houses or single dwelling lets. For further information on the Fire Safety Order click here.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
Before a tenant moves in there must be an energy performance certificate in place for most types of property. A copy of the certificate must be given to any tenant who moves in to the property. If not you cannot serve a Section 21 notice for a new tenancy in England after 1st October 2015. For further details regarding energy performance certificates click here. In addition, landlords of properties with an EPC rating of F or G may not be able to rent out their properties.
If you take a deposit from a tenant under an assured shorthold tenant, the deposit must be protected under one of the three tenancy deposit schemes and the prescribed information regarding the deposit must be given to the tenant within 30 days of receiving the deposit. For a full explanation of tenancy deposits click here.
Payments of rent/administration fees
It is very important that advance payments of rent and non-returnable administration fees are not confused with deposits. You should always make clear to tenants what money is being taken for; otherwise it could be regarded as a deposit which shall be protected under one of the deposit protection schemes. For more information regarding advance payments of rent and non returnable administration fees click here.
Any property may require a licence and landlords should check with their local authority or via the RLA's local authority network to see if they need selective, additional or mandatory licensing. In addition, properties in Wales will usually require a licence under the Rent Smart Wales scheme. If you need a licence and have not at least applied for it you will not be able to serve a valid section 21 and may have to repay all of the rent to the tenants.
If your property is a house in multiple occupation of any kind then you must have a five yearly electrical safety check carried out by a competent electrician even if you do not need a licence. This will cover shared houses, flats in multiple occupation, bedsits, hostels and certain converted blocks of flats. These are blocks of flats which are not converted in compliance with 1991 (or later) building regulations and less two/thirds of the flats in the block are owner/owned.
Landlords must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation. In practice this means they must register with the ICO and prepare a privacy notice outlining why they are entitled to use the personal information of any tenants, guarantors, referees, etc.
Electrical appliances and electrical safety
Where a property is provided with electrical appliances it is the landlords responsibility to make sure that they are safe at the outset of letting. It is strongly advised to perform regular tests of the portable appliances to ensure they are safe.
In addition, landlords of HMOs are required to have an electrical safety inspection performed at least once every 5 years. The inspection certificate must be retained and provided to the local authority upon request.
Fire alarm systems and fire precautions in HMOs
Where fire alarm systems are provided in a house in multiple occupation because the landlord is responsible for insuring fire alarms are checked regularly. You must also make sure that the means of escape from the property (normally the halls stairs and landings) are unobstructed. Houses in multiple occupation include shared houses, flats in multiple occupation, bedsits and certain types of converted flats. See under number 7 above. For information about the HMO Management Regulations which impose these requirements click here.
Carbon Monoxide and alarms in non-HMOs
Landlords in England are required to provide smoke alarms on every floor of their property and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room with a solid fuel source. This applies to most tenancies but further guidance on exceptions and best practice is available here.
Prescribed information to tenants in England
As of 1st October 2015, upon starting a tenancy, landlords are now required to provide the most up to date copy of How to rent: the checklist for renting in England. If they haven't they will not be able to serve a valid Section 21 notice in England.
Landlords are required to perform a risk assessment for Legionaire's Disease. If they don't do this they could be issued with a fine. However, the amount of risk assessment required depends on the type of property and landlords should be wary of claims that all properties need extensive water sampling tests. For more information on this as well as information packs and risk assessment forms click here.
You must not harass your tenants. It is unlawful to evict a tenant without a Court Order. You cannot throw a tenant out because he is in arrears with his rent or breaking the terms of his tenancy. You must go to Court to get a possession order. Any possession order obtained must be enforced by the Court Bailiff. For more information about harassment or illegal eviction click here.
Agents Duties to publicise fees/their redress schemes
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 it is now a legal requirement for all letting and managing agents in England and Wales to publicise details of their fees and to say whether they do not have client money protection. They must also give the name of the redress scheme of which they are a member. Membership of a redress scheme is compulsory for agents. The intention is that there should be full transparency to deter double charging to both the landlord and the tenant and enabling tenants and landlords to shop around