Landlord responsibilities: what buy-to-let owners need to know

​​​​​​​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 the responsibilities of a landlord.

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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.

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 youre 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

HMO licences

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:

  1. The Deposit Protection Service
  2. MyDeposits
  3. 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 its protected through one of the government-approved schemes within 30 days of receiving it. At the end of the tenancy, youll 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.

Referencing tenants properly 

It's a legal requirement to perform tenant referencing, which helps to verify whether tenants are suitable for you and your property. 

At a minimum, it involves a credit check. Incorrect or missing tenant referencing is a common reason for rejected Landlord Legal Protection (LLP) claims. 

If you're confused, our tenant referencing for landlords guide will help. 

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 theyre likely to spend on utility bills.

If your property falls below the minimum requirement, you wont 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.

What's the Renting Homes (Wales) Act?

From the 1st December 2022, the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 will change the way all landlords in Wales rent their properties.

All social and private tenants will see some changes in:

  • the provision of contracts
  • how their homes are maintained
  • how they communicate with their landlords

All social and private landlords must:

  • comply with the new law
  • make the necessary updates to their properties and paperwork

For landlords, this means:

  • simpler contracts: ‘Secure’ for the social rented sector and ‘Standard’ for the private rented sector
  • ensuring homes are fit for human habitation (FFHH). This will include electrical safety testing, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors 
  • abandoned properties can be repossessed without needing a court order

Protecting your property and investment