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The RLA 'Safe and Secure' Home

What are some of the most common hazards in the home?
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Some laws around Property Standards and licensing are different in England and Wales.
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Safe to Rent?

This easy to use tool will help you to identify what hazards to look for in your property to ensure that you are renting a safe, legal and secure home to your tenant.

This is based on the universal Local Authority risk assessment tool - the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to help you to avoid any potential safety or enforcement problems.

What are common hazards in the home?

According to the HHSRS some of the most common hazards present that impact most on health and well-being in the home include,

  • excess cold
  • damp and mould growth
  • difficulty in securing the property from intruders
  • risk of trips and falls
  • risk of fire
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Action - How energy efficient is your home?

It is a legal requirement to provide an EPC certificate in the lettings process and to have this displayed when a property is advertised for rent.

An EPC will show what improvements can be made to save money spent on keeping your home warm and help reduce climate change. The RLA offers an EPC service in partnership with  gas-elec. You can find out more on the RLA website



Landlords can also prevent Excess Cold by:

Ensuring that the home is properly insulated: lofts should have at least 270mm of insulation, and wall cavities should be insulated too. 

Installing heating systems that can be controlled by the occupant. Central heating systems are more efficient than seperate room heaters.  Thermostats should be able to be set so that the main rooms are at 21°C during the day and bedrooms are at 18°C.

Draught proof any gaps around windows and doors. 

Some Environmental Health Officers may seek the removal of older panel heaters. There are models available where the temperature can be controlled, but if this is the sole source of thermal comfort it might be advisable to look at other forms of insulation. You can find out more here.  If still in doubt seek further advice from your local Council. 

PLEASE NOTE: In July 2015 the Government announced that in light of low take-up and other concerns there will be no further funding for the Green Deal Finance Company. This includes any future funding releases of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.

However, this decision has no impact on existing Green Deal Finance Plans or existing Green Deal Home Improvement Fund applications and vouchers.  You can find out more here

The RLA  are working in partnership with E.ON, ECO-Energi and City Energy to offer a range energy efficiency measures which can improve your properties EPC rating and achieve MEES.

If your property does not meet the required standards, this may prevent you from starting or renewing an existing tenancy.

You can find out more about each offering here


Research undertaken for the RLA suggests that meeting the E standard can be achieved at low cost (below £2000) for most homes apart from larger (usually detached) unimproved properties.

To take our example of a mid-terrace typical rented house -

A pre-1900 two bedroom mid terrace gas heated house. Unimproved: no loft insulation, single glazing, G rated boiler and old tank.

EPC F rated
Fuel cost: £1,523 per annum

Improvements to bring the property to an E rated

  • Loft top up to 270mm: £137
  • Draught proof doors: £22
  • All low energy lighting: £30
  • Additional heating controls: £50

Total cost: £249

Fuel cost: £1192

Potential Saving?

Even with very an inefficient boiler, the use of gas, a lower cost fuel, and the inherent efficiency of this house type means it can be brought to the E standard for less than £1000. The low cost measures improve the insulation, lighting and heating system efficiency and the fuel cost by £330.00 per year.

It is also important to consider that any savings your tenant makes on their energy bills will help ensure that they are able to make their rent payments in full and on time. 

You can find out more about Energy Efficiency in the RLA guide here

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Action - Insulate and draught proof to avoid condensation


  • insulate the loft
  • draught proof windows and external doors
  • consider cavity insulation
  • consider double glazing


Double glazing is not as cost effective in terms of recouping your investement as quickly through energy savings alone when compared to other measures such as draught proofing and insulation. However it is an attractive feature when letting a property and does increase the energy efficiency of your property. 

PLEASE NOTE: In July 2015 the Government announced that in light of low take-up and other concerns there will be no further funding for the Green Deal Finance Company. This includes any future funding releases of the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund. 

However, this decision has no impact on existing Green Deal Finance Plans or existing Green Deal Home Improvement Fund applications and vouchers. You can find out more here. 

The RLA  are working in partnership with E.ON, ECO-Energi and City Energy to offer a range energy efficiency measures which can improve your properties EPC rating and achieve MEES. This can include cavity wall insulation and loft insulation. 

If your property does not meet the required standards, this may prevent you from starting or renewing an existing tenancy.

You can find out more about each offering here



  • Double glazing


Casement uPVC Windows Prices (set)

House Type Cost (£)
Small terraced house (6 windows) 2,100 - 2,480
Semi-detatched house (8 windows) 3,100 - 3,540
Large detached house (12 windows) 4,930 - 5,600

Installing a new modern Gas combi condensing boiler - Cicra £2291

You can find out more about Energy Efficiency in the RLA guide here

Please note prices are only an estimate and may be subject to change

Action - effectively ventilate the home

  • Provide suitable low level background ventilation to the property without excessive heat loss or draughts.
  • Ensure that your tenants understand how to use fans and open the windows.
  • Ensure that existing air vents are not blocked, or decorated over, and that trickle vents on windows and doors work correctly.
  • install ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms
  • sufficient ventilation in cupboards and wardrobes
  • Explain to your tenant that the cost of running the extractor is lower than they might think. It is often assumed that extractor fans are expensive to run but effective ventilation will reduce the risk of other health hazards caused by damp and mould. 


There should be adequate means of ventilation provided for people in the building.


You can find out more about products available to effectively ventilate the home here.


Prices will vary depending on what type of ventilation you chose, from full house ventilation to ventilation by room for example, a bathroom extractor fan.

Tenant responsibilities

Action - Produce less moisture, inform tenants of lifestyle choices

  • Cover pans
  • Dry clothes outdoors where drying space is available
  • Vent your tumble dryer to the outside
  • Avoid using paraffin or flueless bottled gas heaters


Free - these are measures that you can advise your tenants as lifestyle choices

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We recommend that RLA members follow the fire safety guidance issued by LACORS (Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services) for domestic housing.

From 01st October 2015 the law will require landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy. Mains powered alarms are preferred as the failure rate is much lower than a battery powered alarm. The Government has announced funding for free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms from fire and rescue authorities to give to private sector landlords whose properties currently do not have alarms. You can find out more in the RLAs 'Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors Requirements from October 2015' guide.   

The government has also published a Q&A booklet for Landlords and Tenants available to download here. 

We would suggest that you contact your local fire station for schemes running in your area. 

You can also install a number of types of smoke detectors yourself. You can find out more here.

We would also advise that you:

  • Provide a fire blanket in the kitchen to allow an occupier to tackle a fire if is safe to do so.
  • Ensure there is a protected and safe means of escape from the property, and that the occupiers can escape from the building without the use of a key.
  • Escape windows can provide a second, emergency escape from the first floor.
  • Ensure that the area immediately adjacent the cooker is free from flammable materials such as curtains around a window, or wall units.
  • Ensure that fitted appliances and equipment that presenta possible source of ignition should be correctly installed and maintained.

For a general overview of fire safety and some useful tips please take a look at our guide here. For up to date guidance on legislation and fire safety for privately rented accomodation please read our more comprehensive guide here. You might also find our video 'Fire Safety Compliance' useful. This tour takes you through a typical rented house and what fire safety precautions are required. The RLA has a full section on the main website dedicated to Fire Safety that you can access here. 


Fire detectors
Prices start from £15 for mains powered (230V) interlinked alarms (We suggest that you buy a ten year alarm)

Fire Blanket
You can get an economy fire blanket from £8.50

Please note prices are only an estimate and may be subject to change

Electrical Safety

Examples of the way in which electrical safety could be enforced are as follows:

  1. Building Regulations - Under Part P of the Building Regulations there are restrictions on who can carry out electrical work. There are a also specific provisions relating to electrical installations, particularly in bathrooms. You can find out more about this here. 
  2. Various Statutory Regulations such as the Electrical Safety Regulations and the Plugs and Sockets regulations
  3. Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 imposing landlord's repairing obligations relating to short residential tenancies - there is an obligation to keep electrical installations in repair and in proper working order
  4. Defective Premises Act 1972 - if a tenant or resident is injured as a result of a defective electrical installation or their personal property is damaged then there would be a liability in damages
  5. Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 - if the condition of the electrical installations is so unsafe that the property is hazardous to live in, then tenants may seek damages or force the landlord to perform works in court.

We recommend that you:

  • Ensure there are sufficient and appropriately sited electric sockets to prevent overloading and excessive use of extension leads. Ensure that the distribution board is properly maintained and regularly checked and tested at least every 10 years. We also recommend visual checks of electrical appliances at the end of each tenancy.
  • We would recommend installing a circuit breaker, an automatically operated electrical switch designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by overload or short circuit. Its basic function is to detect a fault condition and interrupt current flow. Unlike a fuse, which operates once and then must be replaced, a circuit breaker can be reset (either manually or automatically) to resume normal operation.
  • You might also want to install an RCD, or residual current device, which is designed to prevent electric shocks if you touch something live, such as a bare wire. It can also provide some protection against electrical fires. RCDs offer a level of protection that ordinary fuses and circuit-breakers cannot provide.
  • You can also download a Visual Electrical Safety checklist free of charge from the 'Home Safety Guidance' website. Along with the Visual Electrical Guidance document they are designed to help Landlords to record the annual visual electrical checks made to ensure their properties are safe.
  • You can find out more here


With rented residential accommodation it is the Landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the electrical installation and appliances provided by the landlord are safe when the tenancy begins and are in proper working order throughout the tenancy. At the start of the tenancy and throughout both must be free of risk of injury to tenants and residents. Visual checks are important to make sure the appliance and its plugs and its lead have not been damaged and are in a good condition. For RLA Guidance to PAT testing click here

More information

You can read more in the RLA electrical Safety guide here

Gas Safety

Action - Is your property 'Gas Safe'?

  • From 01st October 2015 regulations require smoke alarms to be installed in rented residential accommodation and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with a solid fuel appliance. Changes are also made to the licence requirements in relation to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), such as shared houses and bedsits which require a licence and also in relation to properties which are subject to selective licensing. The Regulations apply both to houses and flats. 

    These provisions only apply in England; not Wales.

  • This applies to any kind of wood burning stove or an open coal fire. It will also extend to equipment such as a solid fuel AGA in the kitchen. This is already a requirement with new installations of solid fuel burning combustion appliances as under Building Regulations there is a requirement to install a carbon monoxide alarm. This is now extended to any existing appliances already in place before Building Regulations imposed this requirement or where building regulations are not observed. 
  • Landlords must ensure that there is a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in any room that is used partly or wholly as living accommodation which also contains any appliance which burns, or is capable of burning, solid fuel. This would include log and coal burning stoves and open fires, even if they are not normally in use, but does not include gas and oil boilers. If an open fireplace is purely decorative and not useable then it is not covered by the regulations.

    Gas is not a solid fuel and so there is no requirement to fit one near a gas boiler. It is still advisable as best practice however.

  • Those who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms would face sanctions and could face up to a £5,000 civil penalty.
  • Landlords must get a yearly Gas safety certificate - Ensure fixed heating appliances and systems, whether central heating or not, should be properly designed, installed and regularly serviced. 
  • Under new Section 21 rules from 01st October 2015 Landlords signing new tenancies must provide their tenants with an up to date Gas Safety Certificate, if this is not issued then you will not be eligible to serve a ‘No Fault’ Section 21 eviction notice under the regulations. When a certificate is obtained during the course of a tenancy (for example if the tenancy runs past a year)  a copy of this must also be given to the tenant. Normally, in practice the gas engineer who carries put the check will do this. However, if you take your tenant to Court under Section 21 you may have to prove that this has been done. 
  • You can find out more in the RLAs  'Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors Requirements from October 2015' guide.
  •  The government has also published  a Q&A booklet for Landlords and Tenants available to download here. 


Annual Gas Safety Check

Gas Safe Register has no control over engineers' charges. It is advised that you obtain quotes from three different engineers before hiring someone and always make sure that they are registered Gas Safe. You can find out more here -


Landlord insurance

Prices will vary but will generally cover an annual Gas Safety / Boiler check. For example British Gas offer many tailored services for Landlords

Click here for more information


Carbon Monoxide detectors

Prices start from £14.70 - £30.00 for battery operated detectors

Click here for more information . 

RLA members can also save up to 20% on carbon monoxide detectors with the RLA Tarde point card. Click here for more information. 

More information on Gas Safety is available in the RLA Gas Safety Guide here

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To enhance security of your property for tenants Landlords can install:


  • Five lever mortice lock for external timber doors or a three multi-point locking system for PVC-u external doors.
  • Window locks should be attached to windows easily accessible from outside but must not be attached to designated escape windows.
  • Door chains.
  • In a shared property (such as a block of flats), the freeholder or appointed manager is responsible for making sure the main entrance door to a shared property has a lock that meets the above standard.
  • Burglar alarms, defender alarms and security, night lights and spy-holes.
  • Ensure doors fit properly into their frame and are free from damage.


Locks and lights are the two main things that make life difficult for burglars. The Crime Prevention website has lots of information on the different types of lighting available. Prices vary depending on which model you choose. You can find out more here.  Here you can also access more information about using mortise locks locks or multi point locks to secure your property. 

Installation of alarms can be complex. You can find out lots of useful information about what types of preventative steps you can take on the Metropolitan Police website.

The Crime prevention website also has a useful directory and simple guides to security -

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Landlords of residential accommodation have responsibilities for combating Legionnaires' disease.


  • Health and safety legislation requires that landlords carry out risk assessments for the Legionella bacteria which cause Legionnaires' disease and thereafter maintain control measures to minimise the risk.
  • Most rented premises will be low risk but it is important that risk assessments are carried out and control measures introduced.
  • Legionella bacteria are found in the natural environment and may contaminate and grow in water systems, including domestic hot and cold water systems. They survive low temperatures and thrive at temperatures between 20 - 45°C if the conditions are right. They are killed by high temperatures at 60°C or above. 
  • Landlords are under a duty to ensure that the risk of exposure to tenants, residents and visitors by Legionella is properly assessed and controlled.
  • Normally there is no reason why the landlord should not carry out this risk assessment himself/herself so long as they are competent. Usually there will be no need to employ a consultant. The assessment should be a straight forward simple exercise in ordinary domestic premises.


Simple control measures will help manage the risk from Legionella and these should be maintained including:


  • flushing out the water system by running all outlets for at least 2 minutes where the premises have not been used e.g. before letting the property or if the property has stood empty for a time.
  • avoiding debris getting into the system (e.g. making sure cold water tanks, if installed, have a tight fitting lid).
  • setting controls so that the hot water is heated to and stored at 60°C.
  • the removal of any redundant pipe work.
  • advising tenants to regularly clean, descale and disinfect shower heads.
  • Landlords are entitled to expect the tenants will play their part in ensuring control measures are maintained.

Landlords should:

  • inform tenants of potential risk of exposure to Legionella and its consequences.
  • tell tenants of any action which arises from the landlords risk assessment if appropriate.
  • tell tenants to inform the landlord if the hot water system is not heating properly or if there are any other problems with the system.
  • tell the landlord if the cold water system is not running cold.
  • tell tenants to keep the water turned over.

More Infomation


  • HSE have published detailed guidance and the relevant extract relating to residential accommodation is available here.
  • The full RLA guide is available here where you can download a full Risk Assessment Form


Free - this is an educational and time investment to keep your tenants safe.

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Action - Familiarise yourself with the potential deficiencies that could cause tenants to fall:


  • Ensure that the treads, risers, nosings, balustrades, and handrails are complete and in good condition.
  • Ensure that concrete steps are free draining to reduce icing, complete, and in good condition.
  • Stairs should be well-lit with light switches at the top and bottom.
  • Remove loose area rugs from the top, bottom, or landing area of the stairs.
  • Put non-slip treads on each bare-wood step.
  • Install handrails extending the full length of the stairway
  • Repair any loose carpeting or wooden boards immediately
  • To reduce the risk of small children falling or becoming trapped, there should not be any openings on stairs, either to the stairs themselves or to the guarding, which allow a 100mm diameter sphere to pass through.
  • Artificial lights and windows should be sited to avoid shadows and dark corners. There should be switches or controls for artificial lighting at both the top and foot of stairs.
  • Glare from windows should be avoided.
  • Obstructions on stairs or at the head of stairs can increase the likelihood of a fall.
  • In multi-occupied buildings, the owner or manager is also responsible for the stair covering and for ensuring that stairs are kept free from obstructions.


Hand rail - Prices start from around £45.00

Non slip treads for outdoor steps - You can buy packs of 5 for around £30.00

Lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs  - 2x energy efficient light bulbs = around £8.00 - £10.00

Please note prices are only an estimate and may be subject to change



Baths and showers should be stable and securely fitted, be slip resistant and incorporate safety features such as handles or grab rails and side positioning of taps and waste controls.

The layout of the bathroom and of the appliances should allow for the ease of use of each appliance, including sufficient functional space to enable users (including an adult assisting a child) to be able to undress, dry themselves and dress without increasing the likelihood of a fall.


Handrail / grab rail for bath - Prices start from £10.00

Please note prices are only an estimate and may be subject to change


Trips and Falls on the level


This also applies to the garden and paths often associated with single trip steps and raised floor thresholds. To prevent an accident occurring we suggest,

  • Ensure that rooms have sufficient lighting.
  • Any trips steps should be highlighted by use of contrasting coloured strip
  • Keep floors clear of trailing flexes, wrinkled or fraying carpets or anything else that tenants might trip or slip on.
  • Floorboards should be laid to an even finish, and carpets and floor fittings throughout.
  • The property should be in good repair to ensure there are no trip hazards.
  • Floors, yards and paths should be in good condition. Any change in levels should be clearly defined and well lit.
  • Consider whether handrails or bannisters should be fitted.


Non slip treads for outdoor steps – you can buy packs of 5 for around £30.00

Motion activated Outdoor light - Prices start from £12.00

Please note prices are only an estimate and may be subject to change


Change in level

  • Where internal window sills are lower than 1,100mm from the floor, safety glass and/or guarding should be provided.
  • Ensure that windows are fitted with safety catches to prevent them opening more than 100mm.
  • Ensure that windows are maintained and operate correctly and easily.
  • Ensure that guard rails on roof areas or around balconies are not less than 1100mm above floor level.
  • Ensure the rails are not easily climbed by young children, and that openings on guard rails are not greater than 100mm.
  • Ensure that balconies and guard rails are well maintained and securely fixed.
  • Ensure that doors leading to roofed areas that are not supposed to be accessed by occupants are secure and well maintained.


UPVC Window safety locks - Prices start from £4.99

Please note prices are only an estimate and may be subject to change

More information on Falls Prevention


You can read more about falls in the RLA guide to the HHSRS

You can also download a 'Falls Prevention checklist' from the 'Home Safety Guidance' website which highlights a list of hazards that you can tick off to prevent your tenant from falling. 

Here you will also find more information about all of the hazards highlighted in this guide.

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If new glazing is being installed in certain positions safety glass must be used. For the RLA Safety Guide on Plate Glass click here.


Before carrying out any work it is important to assess whether or not asbestos may be present. For example, it can be found in certain tiles and artex ceilings. As a landlord if you are aware of the presence of asbestos you must tell any contractor you engage and you need to make sure that your contractor carries out an assessment as to the likelihood of the presence of asbestos before work starts.

Find out more here.

Periodic Checks

Remember that regular checks, including visual inspections, are an important way of ensuring that the house is safe and free from hazards. The following checks will need to be carried out -

  • An annual gas safety check on appliances. This is a legal requirement.
  • Periodic electrical safety checks on the installation.
  • Periodic visual checks or PAT tests on any appliances which you provide as landlord.
  • If a fire alarm system is checked then it needs to be tested weekly and serviced/checked at least annually.
  • Periodic inspection of any emergency lighting.

A full risk assessment tool is available for all members to download from the RLA website here.

A full 'Home Safety Certificate' is also available to download and use for free from the 'Home Safety Guidance' website to help Landlords to demonstrate that all the appropriate checks have been carried out in your property to ensure the safety of tenants. 

Checklist of documents

Changes to Section 21 notices

A new Section 21 form has been released by the Government. New regulations will require landlords to provide tenants with EPC certificates, Gas Safety Certificates, and  a DCLG Booklet on “How to rent” to be eligible to serve a ‘No Fault’ Section 21 eviction notice.

The new form is used for all tenancies, but the requirement to provide the above documents applies only to tenancies created on or after October 1st 2015.

The notice cannot be served until 4 months after the tenancy starts and cannot be used 6 months after it has been served at which point a fresh one would need serving. The notice cannot be served for 6 months after a local authority has served an improvement notice or carried out emergency remedial action

The regulations also stipulate : 

Compliance with prescribed legal requirements: this gives landlords the legal responsibility to provide the tenant(s) with a relevant Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and gas safety certificates.

PLEASE NOTE - If a landlord does not provide this information tenants are not responsible for complying with a Section 21 notice. 

Right to Rent Checks 

As of 01st February 2016 landlords and agents are required to check the immigration status of their prospective tenants at the outset of the tenancy.

The Immigration Act 2014 introduced the concept of 'right to rent' to the private rented sector. Originally introduced in the West Midlands, right to rent has now been rolled out across England. 

You can find out more on the RLA website and on the GOV.UK website.  The RLA also runs training courses for Landlords and Agents on Immigration and the Right to Rent. You can find out more here

Essential Documents

We would advise that all Landlords check that they also have the following documents to hand for each of their properties:

  • A licence if applicable in your area (this can include selective, additional and HMO. You can find out more about licensing here - . If you are in a selective and additional licensing area please check the conditions of your licence carefully as there may be additional conditions to comply with that this tool does not cover. 
    • An EPC Certificate (It is a legal requirement to provide and have available an EPC as soon as possible in the lettings process, from 2018 it will be ILLEGAL TO RENT A PROPERTY UNDER AN EPC RATING 'E' WITHOUT AN EXEMPTION). PLEASE NOTE  - from 01st October 2015 for all new tenancies you must provide your tenant with an EPC certificate at the start of the tenancy, then to ALL tenancies from October 2018.  The RLA offers an EPC service in partnership with Eco Energi. You can find out more on the RLA website
  • Gas Safety Certificate (renewed yearly). PLEASE NOTE  - from 01st October 2015 for all new and renewal tenancies you must provide your tenant with an up to date Gas Safety certificate at the start of the tenancy. Copies of any of the certificates obtained during the course of the tenancy must also be given to the tenant. 
  • Tenancy Deposits – Within 30 days of receiving a deposit, the landlord must protect the deposit in an approved deposit protection scheme and give the tenant the prescribed information about the scheme being used. This must be accompanied by the Scheme leaflet. Find out more here.
  • Privacy Notice - Landlords are required to give a privacy notice to all their tenants detailing how they will use their data under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Information for Tenants

  • As stated above under new regulations to accompany new Section 21 notices from 01st October 2015  landlords are required to provide the most up to date version of  DCLG's Tenant's guide ' How to rent '  document at the beginning of tenancies – you are not required to provide updated versions during the tenancy or if the tenancy becomes a ‘replacement tenancy’ (that is, when a tenancy renews with same tenants, landlords and basis of tenancy agreement).
  •  We suggest to Landlords that you give your tenant this guide at the start of the tenancy when you issue the prescribed information.  This guide can be given to the tenant either electronically if the tenant agrees or in paper format. 
  • PLEASE NOTE  - The requirement to give this information to tenants applies to all tenancies granted on or after October 1st 2015.
  • The RLA also has a 'Guide for Tenants'  

Tenant Fees Ban

  • From June 1st 2019, landlords and agents will be barred from charging tenants most types of fees for new and renewal tenancies.  Where they have taken a prohibited payment they will not be able to serve a Section 21 notice until they have returned all of the prohibited amount.
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