Letting your property also comes with a range of legal responsibilities. At Lawlors we take safety regulations and legislation very seriously in order to protect both our tenants and our landlords. Here we outline the key safety regulations and landlord responsibilities when letting out a property.
These are standard checks to confirm the identity and authenticity of any funds involved in a transaction. HMRC targets any criminal activity in the property sector and require all estate agents to obtain and hold identification and proof of address for all customers. These checks apply to landlords and prospective tenants. Agents are also required to establish whether anyone else will benefit from the transaction, so where appropriate, the source or destination of funds may also be requested.
Cleaning and Check-in
Rental properties are required to be clean when a tenant moves in. A check-in records the state of the property when the tenant moves in. Such a record minimises disagreements and delays at the end of a tenancy and helps smooth discussions around claiming for cleaning or damage. We can help arrange professional cleaning before the move-in date and an independent inventory at check-in to record the condition of the inside and outside the property.
Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
An EICR is an in-depth inspection of your property’s electrical systems and installation and assesses its safety and condition. The assessment covers consumer units (fuse boards), protective bonding, lighting, switches, sockets etc. It ensures the electrics are safe for your tenant to use and identifies any immediate hazards that need fixing. Any remedial works required must be completed within 28 days. EICRs are legally required for new tenancies in England. As from the 1st April 2021, all let properties will require an EICR, which must be renewed every 5 years.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
An EPC measures the energy efficiency of a property on a scale of A-G and is valid for 10 years. It must be carried out by a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor who looks at factors such as the wall, floor and roof insulation, boiler efficiency, and even the type of lightbulbs in use. It is a legal requirement for landlords to have a valid EPC in place with a minimum band E rating before the property is advertised for let. You can check a property rating on the national EPC register. If your property doesn’t have one or it is expiring soon, Lawlors can arrange for an EPC to be carried out on your behalf.
Fire and Furnishings Regulations
It is incredibly important for landlords to follow fire safety requirements and must be able to provide evidence that you have done everything that can reasonably be expected to protect your property and tenant from fire and smoke damage. You should be confident that if a fire does occur, your tenants will be alerted in time for them to escape.
A smoke alarm must be installed on every storey of the property and a carbon monoxide alarm must also be installed in every room where solid fuels are used. If you are letting your property furnished, you must make sure all furniture meets the safety requirements. All furniture and equipment provided by you must be manufactured from fire resistant materials or treated with fire retardant coatings from the manufacturer. All upholstered items must have fire resistant filling material. Landlords are not responsible for tenant-owned furniture and appliances.
Landlords who do not comply are breaking the law and could face up to six months in prison and hefty fines. Houses in multiple occupation have additional fire safety requirements including fire-resistant doors, fire extinguishers and fire-blankets. Lawlors can provide advice on the specific requirements for your property.
Gas Safety Certificates
Where there is gas supplied to the property, you must have gas appliances, flues and supply points tested by a Gas Safe registered engineer to show they are safe. The Gas Safety Certificate must be renewed every 12 months and you must give your tenants a copy within 28 days of the check. Lawlors can assist you with arranging these checks, even if we don't manage your property.
House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Regulation & Licensing
A rented property is considered a House in Multiple Occupation if a property is occupied by three or more people, forming two or more households, who also share facilities such as the kitchen or bathroom, regardless of the number of storeys the property has. As well as all the normal legal responsibilities, HMO landlords must ensure that their property complies with a range of additional rules. You can read about these in more detail in our HMO guide.
HMO licences were introduced as part of the Housing Act 2004 to protect people living in shared houses, which were often overcrowded with poor fire safety measures in place. If you want to rent out your property as an HMO in England or Wales you must contact your council to check if you need a licence. These are mandatory for ‘large’ HMOs (5 or more people sharing), but it’s worth checking with your local council even if your property is smaller and rented to fewer people, as you may still need a licence, depending on the rules in your area. A licence is valid for a maximum of 5 years.
Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
Introduced as part of the Housing Act 2004, the HHSRS allows local authorities to assess the condition of the property and any potential hazards. The aim is to maintain good standards in the private rented sector. Lawlors can help you understand how this legislation may apply to your property.
How to Rent Guide
The How to Rent Guide is the checklist for renting in England which must be provided to a new tenant by the landlord or letting agent at the start of their tenancy. The guide gives practical advice about what to do before and during a let. It is available via gov.uk or for further information you can speak to your local Lawlors branch.
All landlords could be liable to pay tax on their rental income, whether they live in the UK or are based overseas. Further information can be found on the Inland Revenue’s website.
There are specific tax rules for overseas landlords - find out more in our useful guide.
Legionella Risk Assessment
Legionnaires' Disease is a form of pneumonia that is caused by inhalation of droplets of water containing the Legionella bacteria. While uncommon, it is dangerous and landlords are responsible for assessing their properties for risk. A very simple initial assessment will show if your property’s water systems are at risk. Most normal domestic systems are considered low-risk due to the regular usage and flow of water, limiting standing water. Lawlors can help with advice on minimising risks and we can also arrange an assessment for you.
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)
PAT inspections ensure all portable electrical appliances in your property are tested and approved as safe to use. A PAT certificate documents the safety testing of portable electrical appliances – basically anything that has an electrical plug and can be moved, such as a fridge, freezer, washing machine, toaster etc. Anything rated as unsafe should be replaced or removed from the property. For landlords, it is good practice to have smaller appliances tested every two years and larger items like fridges and washing machines every four years.
Whilst PAT testing is not an official legal requirement for landlords in England and Wales (except for in HMOs), it is considered best practice - the government states that landlords must make sure “the electrical system is safe” and “all appliances they supply are safe”. By ensuring all electrical appliances are fit for use, you are upholding your duty of care to your tenant. Lawlors can arrange for PAT certification of appliances in your property.
Any problems with the exterior and structure of a property – including roof, chimneys, walls, guttering and drains - are the responsibility of the landlord. So whether it’s a cracked window, a faulty boiler, leak in the kitchen or a leaky seal in the window, it’s down to the landlord to sort it. Landlords are also responsible for keeping the supply of water, gas and electricity in safe working order. Lawlors’ Fully Managed package takes care of all maintenance issues, so you don’t have to worry about them.
Right to Rent
The Right to Rent scheme helps to make sure that people renting property in the UK have a legal right to be here. Since 2016, Landlords have a responsibility to check all prospective tenants are over 18 years of age. If you let your property to a tenant who does not have the right to rent the penalties can be severe, including unlimited fines and up to 5 years in prison. Right to Rent checks make up part of Lawlors’ referencing process.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
Tenants provide a security deposit to provide the landlord with some assurance that the property will be looked after by the tenant. It provides protection for the cost of repairs or cleaning should there be any damage caused by the tenant. Landlords and letting agents are required to register the deposit with an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme. This protects the tenant’s money which must be returned in full at the end of the tenancy, unless there is unpaid rent or a dispute about damage caused to the property. Lawlors' Fully Managed and Rent Collection services levels take care of all aspects of protecting the security deposit, including providing your tenant with all the details of the scheme.