Whether you’re a full-time landlord or rent out a house on the side for extra income, there are certain responsibilities all landlords must meet according to UK law.
The responsibilities of private landlords range from repairing and maintaining home amenities to protecting your tenants’ deposit. Make sure you’re a legally compliant landlord with this handy guide to landlord responsibilities.
You might also want to check out our other landlord guides:
- Landlord checklist: what you need to get started
- A landlord's guide to fire risk assessment in rental properties
- Mould in rental properties
- A landlord's guide to dealing with rent arrears
- How right to rent checks work
Repairs and maintenance
Although you aren’t living in the property you’re renting out, you’ll need to make sure the house or flat you own is safe and comfortable for the tenants who do live there.
As a landlord, responsibilities include:
- Making sure the structure and outside of the property are in good condition
- Maintaining water and heating systems
- Checking any electrical appliances supplied by the landlord are safe to use
- Making sure all furniture in the property complies with fire safety regulations
Bathroom and kitchen installations may also need maintenance, and a registered engineer will need to visit your property each year for a safety check of all gas appliances (tenants should be provided with copies of the gas safety check record before they move in).
At the start of a tenancy, carry out a condition check for the property you’re renting out. This should include:
- Checking there’s a working smoke alarm on each floor and a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms that contain fuel burning appliances (such as wood burning stoves)
- Checking there’s access to escape routes
- Providing fire alarms and extinguishers if the property is a large house in multiple occupation
A home with three or more unrelated tenants, where toilets, bathrooms and kitchen facilities are shared, is considered a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
If there are five or more unrelated tenants in a home with shared toilet, bathroom and kitchen facilities, this is considered a large HMO.
Landlord legal responsibilities state that large HMOs require a licence. In some areas, smaller HMOs also need a licence – if you’re not sure if this applies to you, check with your local council. Renting out an unlicensed HMO is punishable by an unlimited fine, so it’s important to get this right.
Protecting your tenants’ deposit
Most landlords ask their tenants to pay a deposit before moving in. This covers any unexpected damage to the property and furniture during the tenancy.
All tenancy deposits need to be protected via one of three government-approved deposit protection schemes:
- The Deposit Protection Service
- The Tenancy Deposit Scheme
These services make sure tenants get their deposit back, so long as they leave your property undamaged, pay their rent and bills and meet the other terms of your tenancy agreement.
On receiving the tenants’ deposit, you must make sure it’s protected through one of the government-approved schemes within 30 days of receiving it. At the end of the tenancy, you’ll need to return the tenants’ deposit within 10 days of agreeing the amount owed. Any disputes can be handled by your chosen deposit protection provider.
Energy performance certificate
As of April 2018, any landlord who privately rents out property in England and Wales must ensure that the house or flat being rented has a minimum energy efficiency rating of E. This protects tenants from spending huge amounts running their homes, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and evening out seasonal peaks in energy demand.
Even if you already know your property is energy efficient, all landlords must apply for an energy efficiency certificate to show tenants how much money they’re likely to spend on utility bills.
If your property falls below the minimum requirement, you won’t be able to rent it out. Your assessment will give you advice about how to make your home more energy efficient – follow these, and you’ll increase your likelihood of meeting the minimum standard.
Right to rent (England only)
Checking that all tenants in a rented property have a legal right to live in the country is a landlord’s responsibility (although currently this only applies in England). This is called a right to rent check and must take place at the beginning of every new tenancy agreement.
Looking at and making copies of immigration documents such as passports and ID cards will be required to comply with right to rent laws.
In most cases you can do this without contacting the Home Office. However, if your tenant has an application or appeal outstanding with the Home Office, or the Home Office has their documentation, you should request a right to rent check from the UK Visas and Immigration landlord’s checking service