Stay Compliant: 6 Key Obligations for Landlords Renting Homes (Incl. a lawyer-drafted tenancy agreement template)

Did you know if you're a landlord in the UK, there are certain legal obligations that you must fulfil when it comes to letting a residential property? This guide will help you get on the right track to being legally compliant when it comes to your rental property.

In this blog, we'll discuss six key legal obligations that landlords must carry out when letting a residential property in the UK. Failing to comply with these obligations could lead to legal issues, penalties and potentially losing the ability to exercise certain rights to evict your tenants. For landlords, it's therefore important to understand these obligations and how to fulfil them.

From registering the tenant's deposit with a government approved-scheme to carrying out your statutory repair obligations during the tenancy; we'll cover the basics that you need to know ahead of the tenancy starting. While this blog isn't intended to be an exhaustive list of everything that you'll need to do as a landlord, it will set you on the right path to a well-managed tenancy.

So, whether you're a seasoned landlord with years of experience or you're just starting out in the rental market, keep reading to learn more about your legal responsibilities and how to ensure that you're meeting them.

1: Prepare and finalise a tenancy agreement

The first step is having a well-drafted tenancy agreement with terms that are favourable to you. While it may not be a legal requirement, a tenancy agreement is a legally binding document that protects both the tenant and the landlord. A tenancy agreement should include important details such as:

  • details of the property and the parties;

  • the amount of rent and payment schedule;

  • details of the government-approved deposit protection scheme (for more information about this, check out #4 below);

  • the term of the tenancy;

  • notice periods required to bring the tenancy to an end;

  • the rights and obligations of both parties; and

  • any other agreed terms.

A written tenancy agreement can also help to set clear boundaries and expectations of both parties from the start, which can prevent disagreements or disputes down the line. As a landlord, providing a written tenancy agreement at the outset is therefore one of the most important steps to a successful tenancy. By outlining what is expected of the tenant and the landlord, each party can better understand what is expected of them and work towards a positive rental experience.

Are you worried that you may forget something important when it comes to the terms of your tenancy agreement? Don’t worry, with Docue’s dynamic tenancy agreement template, you can ensure that all of the necessary terms are included in your agreement. It also allows you to attach an inventory and schedule of condition, so you can agree on the condition of the property with the tenant at the beginning and prevent disputes later on.

2. Provide the tenant with a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate and up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

  • Gas Safety Certificate

By law, landlords must carry out an annual gas safety check and provide tenants with a copy of the gas safety certificate for the property. This certificate confirms that all gas appliances in the property have been checked and are in good working order. The gas safety certificate must be renewed annually and a copy must be given to the tenant before they move in.

  • Energy Performance Certificate

All residential landlords are required to provide their tenants with an up-to-date EPC. The EPC gives information about the energy efficiency of the building and makes recommendations for how energy efficiency can be improved. The EPC must be renewed every ten years and a copy must be provided to the tenant before they move in.

You can find an existing EPC by searching the property's postcode, road name and town or the certificate number here.

3. Provide the tenant with a copy of the government's "How to Rent" Guide

If the tenancy was started or renewed after 1st October 2015, a landlord must give their tenant a copy of the government's "How to Rent" guide. This guide provides important information on the rental process, including how to find and rent a property, what to expect during the tenancy and how to end the tenancy.

4. Protect the tenant's deposit in a government-approved scheme

Landlords are required by law to protect their tenant's deposit in a government-approved scheme. This protects the tenant's deposit from being unfairly withheld at the end of the tenancy and provides an impartial dispute resolution service if there are any disagreements. Landlords must protect the deposit within 30 days of receiving it and provide the tenant with details of the scheme being used. This information should include details such as the name and contact information of the deposit protection scheme, the amount of the deposit that has been protected and how the tenant can apply to get the deposit back at the end of the tenancy. Depending on the scheme that you choose to protect the deposit with, the deposit may either be held by the landlord or the scheme.

For more information about the government-approved schemes and how to register with them, check out the government's guidance here.

5. Ensure the property has sufficient smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

All rental properties in the UK must have sufficient smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms installed. Smoke alarms must be installed on each floor of the property, and carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance (such as a wood-burning stove or open fire). It's the landlord's responsibility to ensure that the alarms are installed and in good working order before the tenant moves in.

6. Ensure the property is safe and habitable for the tenant

The property should meet all of the latest safety standards from the beginning of the tenancy until the tenants move out. As a landlord, under UK property law, you have certain repair obligations that you must fulfil during a tenancy. These obligations are designed to ensure that your rental property remains safe, habitable and comfortable for your tenants.

What repair obligations do landlords have during the tenancy?

Generally speaking, your repair obligations as a landlord fall into two categories:

A. Repairing issues that affect the structure or exterior of the property

For issues that affect the structure or exterior of the property, such as a leaky roof or a broken window, it is your responsibility as the landlord to arrange for repairs to be made promptly. This is because these types of issues can pose a safety risk to your tenants and can also cause damage to the property if left unaddressed.

B. Repairing issues that affect the interior of the property

For issues that affect the interior of the property, such as a broken boiler or a faulty electrical system, your repair obligations may depend on the terms of your tenancy agreement. In general, however, you are responsible for ensuring that the property's systems and appliances are in good working order, and that your tenants have access to hot water, heating, and other essential services.

What if the tenant damages the property?

It's important to note that your repair obligations as a landlord do not extend to damage caused by your tenants or their guests. If your tenant causes damage to the property, it is their responsibility to arrange for repairs or to cover the cost of repairs. However, you should still arrange for repairs to be made as soon as possible to ensure the property remains habitable.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, being a landlord comes with several legal obligations that must be fulfilled if you want to ensure your tenancy will run smoothly as planned and complies with UK laws. By carrying out the points we've outlined above when your tenant moves in, along with ensuring you carry out any necessary repairs during the tenancy as required by law; this will help you to ensure that you meet your legal obligations, whilst providing a safe and comfortable home for your tenants.

Sign up for a free trial on Docue and check out our tenancy agreement. You'll be surprised how easy we've made it to draft, sign and store contracts using the platform.

Docue Legal Team