Landlord Responsibilities You Didn't Know About
Understanding landlord responsibilities is an essential part of establishing positive relationships with tenants and ensuring legal compliance. However, for many landlords, this can be a challenge, as the breadth and extent of landlord responsibilities is often surprising. While you might be familiar with requirements for fire safety or ensuring that you have a tenancy agreement, there are some obligations that are less obvious. In particular, these four landlord responsibilities that you may not have known about.
1. You must check your tenants’ right to rent
This is an immigration check that requires landlords to see a passport or other official documents for anyone in the property over the age of 18. It’s important to take copies of the documents that you’re shown. The penalties for illegal renting can include fines and a prison term so ensuring right to rent checks are carried out is a crucial landlord responsibility.
2. You must provide an Energy Performance & Gas Safety Certificate
A gas safety check must be carried out on the property every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer – this is the landlord’s responsibility. A copy of the report has to be provided to tenants, before they move in and within 28 days of any subsequent annual inspection.
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is now also required for all properties that are being let – usually on the basis of one for each self contained property within a building. Failing to provide an EPC can attract a financial penalty of £200 per dwelling.
Since 1st April 2018 any property being let or renewed on an assured tenancy must have an EPC with a minimum energy rating of E
3. You must protect your tenant’s deposit
Protecting your tenant’s deposit is required if you’re using an assured shorthold tenancy (the most common tenancy type in the UK). The deposit must be protected with one of three government approved schemes within 30 days, and Prescribed Information about which scheme is being used provided to the tenant. If you don’t protect deposits then your tenants can seek compensation of up to 3x the deposit from you and you won’t have access to the quicker Section 21 eviction process.
4. You must follow rules on rent increases
If you want to increase the rent you charge then this will either need to be in accordance with a rent review clause in the tenancy agreement or using a Section 13 notice. If you’re using a Section 13 notice you can only increase the rent once a year and must provide at least a month’s notice of the increase (which can’t take effect until after a fixed term has ended). A rent review clause in a tenancy agreement should set out how a rent increase is calculated, as well as when the increase can take place and what notice is required. If this is the mechanism you’re using to increase the rent then you should follow each step as set out in the agreement.
There is a third option which is mutual agreement. If you propose a rent increase from a certain date (subject to the S13 and fixed term rules) and the tenant agrees, then the increase is lawful but best practice is to get it all in writing.
Landlord rules can be complex but working with a letting agent will ensure that you don’t neglect your responsibilities.