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Landlord Compliance Checklist for 2021
The legal responsibilities of a landlord extend beyond collecting rent, finding new tenants and arranging for repairs. There are many requirements for landlord compliance so follow our landlord compliance checklist for guidance on the latest landlord responsibilities and letting rules and regulations.
- Landlord Compliance Checklist
- Do I Need a Landlord License?
- Do I Need Landlord Insurance?
- Right to Rent Checks
- Protecting the Tenancy Deposit
- Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in 2021
- Landlord Health and Safety Checklist
- What Are Landlords Obligated to Fix?
- Providing Fire safe furnishings
- Landlord complience & Fire Safety Checks
- Landlord complience & Gas Safety Checks
- Landlord complience & Electrical Safety Checks
- What Documents Does a Landlord Need to Provide?
- How to rent guide
- Energy Performance Certificate
- Details of the Deposit Protection Scheme
Landlord Compliance Checklist
Do I Need a Landlord License?
Whether or not you will need a landlord license to rent out your property is largely dictated by the area in which you live and the residing local authority. Selective licensing schemes were introduced as a measure to reduce the impact of rouge landlords. The exception to this would be if the rental property in question was considered HMO, as this would demand that the landlord obtain a license regardless of their local authority. If landlords are found to be letting without an appropriate license from their council, they could face a civil penalty of up to £30,000.
Do I Need Landlord Insurance?
Landlord insurance is essential, with many buy to let mortgage providers requiring that owners hold such policies as a requirement of the loan. Landlord insurance policies will typically cover any accidental damage to the property, with additional coverage being available for landlords that let out a furnished opportunity, want financial security surrounding missing rental payment and liability should any accidents occur within the rental.
Right to Rent Checks
With the introduction of the Immigration Act 2014 landlord are legally required to assess each of their tenant’s right to rent within the UK. These checks require the tenant to provide the owner of the property with valid identification documents such as a Passport or VISA, seeing the landlord keep copies of these documents.
Landlords must ensure that:
- All tenants are using the property as their main residence
- Tenants are able to produce documents that prove their right to rent
- All provided documents are legitimate originals
- Checks are repeated if visa expire or temporary right to rent is granted
If a landlord neglects to carry out the appropriate right to rent checks then they are likely to face a fine of £3,000, with this amount increasing significantly for repeat offences.
Protecting the Tenancy Deposit
When moving into a rental property landlords will request that tenants pay a security deposit, typically costing five weeks rent. Unlike the holding deposit that is commonly returned to the tenant through a deduction from their first rental payment, the security deposit is only refunded at the end of the tenancy. Because of this, landlords are required to register the sums paid by the tenant into a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme. Not only must the amounts be protected within 30 days, alongside confirmation of the registration, but any amounts being returned to the tenant must be done so within 10 days of the fixed term coming to a close.
There are two types of deposit protection schemes available to landlords, custodial and insurance-based schemes. Firstly, an insurance-based scheme sees the landlord retain possession of the security deposit, but pays the provider for the protection. Alternatively, a custodial scheme can be used, seeing the protection scheme physically hold the amounts until the end of the tenancy; refunding the applicable amount to the tenant.
If a landlord fails to protect a renter’s security deposit, then not only will they be prevented from issuing the occupant with a section 21 notice, but, if compensation is claimed by the tenant, landlords could pay up to three times the amounts left unprotected to each renter.
Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in 2021
In 2018 the UK government introduced the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, demanding that every rental property in the UK was able to meet an EPC rating of an “E” grade before being occupied by tenants. Whilst these regulations exclusively applied to new tenancies, after the 1st of April 2020 the MEES was extended to encompass all existing tenancies.
However, further changes are on the horizon as the UK government looks to increase the MEES from an “E” grade to an EPC rating of “C” in 2025. Once again, this change will only initially affect new tenancies but will become applicable to all existing tenancies from 2028. Currently, landlords that fail to produce an EPC for their rental property can face a fine of £5,000, however, this will surge to £30,000 once the new regulations are enforced in 2025.
Landlords that fail to meet the minimum EPC grade are required to spend up to £3,500 in an effort to improve the energy efficiency of their rental, but once again this threshold will see an increase in 2025, with the amount landlords are expected to spend on these changes moving to £10,000.
Landlord Health and Safety Checklist
What Are Landlords Obligated to Fix?
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act clearly establishes a landlord’s duty to attend to the repair of the rental property. This obligation will encompass the exterior and the structure of the rental, comprising the walls, roofing guttering and drains. This is alongside the owner’s responsibility to ensure that the occupants of the property have consistent access to water, gas and electricity.
With this being said, landlords must also be aware that they cannot simply enter the rental property at any time to carry out the necessary repairs. When gaining access to the property owners must supply their tenants with at least 24 hours’ notice of their visit. If the time is at an unreasonable time, or the request doesn’t adhere to this minimum notice the tenants are empowered to reject the request to find a mutually convenient time for the visit to take place.
This is not to dismiss the tenant’s responsibility towards repairs. The landlord cannot be expected to address remedial work that they are not aware of, and with this in mind, the residents must bring any damages to the property, its appliances or contents to the landlord’s attention before the situation potentially presents a risk to the tenant’s safety.
Providing Fire safe furnishings
Whilst this will largely not be a concern to those that choose to let out an unfurnished rental opportunity, for landlords that offer fully or even party furnished rentals must ensure they comply with the stringent measures established by the Furniture and Furnishings Regulation 1993. In order for landlords to be compliant any items of upholstery must meet a minimum level of ignition and fire resistance. This will clearly be shown on items such as curtains, mattresses, and cushions across the manufacturer’s label and must be documented in the event of an inspection by the local authority.
Landlord complience & Fire Safety Checks
Landlords are legally required to have a smoke alarm installed on each floor of their rental property, with a carbon monoxide alarm also being placed in any room that houses a solid fuel source. Whilst the landlord must ensure that these alarms are working at the point the tenancy commences, tenants are expected to routinely check the alarms are still in working order.
If the rental property is a HMO then there are additional considerations for the landlord to undertake, primarily a fire risk assessment. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 owners must ensure that the social areas of their HMO undergo a thorough fire risk assessment. This assessment will reveal potential sources of a fire whilst highlighting any potential fire risks within the HMO.
HMO’s must provide the occupants with a viable fire escape route, with lighting and fire-resistant doors being installed. Further to this fire extinguishers must be available on each floor of the rental property, with these being periodically serviced.
Landlord complience & Gas Safety Checks
Under the 1998 Gas Safety Regulations rental property owners are legally obligated to ensure that a qualified gas safe engineer conducts a gas safety check on the rental. This assessment will see all gas appliances, flues and pipework inspected for potential damage or risks. Once the inspection has been completed the landlord is required to provide their tenants will a copy of the gas safety certificate, alongside at the start of each new tenancy.
Landlord complience & Electrical Safety Checks
Similarly to the gas safety checks, landlords are required to obtain an electrical installations condition report every five years. This assessment will see the electrical appliances, wiring and outlets be scrutinised, with the landlord being required to issue tenants with the report within 28 days of the inspection being completed.
What Documents Does a Landlord Need to Provide?
How to rent guide
The How to Rent guide is an essential document that must be provided to tenants before the tenancy commences. The guide offers new, existing, and aspiring renters practical advice for each stage of their renting journey. The document is readily available online and can be downloaded as a pdf to be provided to new occupants. The guide extensively details the legal rights and responsibilities of both tenant and landlord, helping each tenancy to run smoothly, keeping renters fully informed with the latest regulations and how this impacts them. If owners neglect to provide their tenants with the most recent copy of the government’s How to Rent guide, then they will be prevented from serving the occupants with a section 21 notice of eviction, making reclaiming possession of the property far more difficult.
Energy Performance Certificate
Before advertising a rental opportunity to new tenants, a landlord must ensure that they have a valid energy performance certificate, or EPC Each EPC is valid for 10 years and allows prospective and new tenants to understand how environmentally friendly their new home is at a glance, revealing the rental’s overall efficiency and an estimation on its running costs.
Details of the Deposit Protection Scheme
As mentioned, landlords are legally required to enter their tenant’s security deposit into a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of the amounts being paid. Once the security deposit has been registered landlords must provide their tenants with details surrounding the deposit’s protection.
Landlords are obligated to inform their tenant of:
- The amount being entered into the protection scheme
- When the deposit will be returned
- Circumstances that allow deductions to be made
- Advice on the appropriate scheme’s dispute resolution service
- Where renters can turn if they don’t get their deposit back at the end of the tenancy
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