There are a number of legal requirements which landlords must abide by throughout the entire duration of any tenancy. Not only can failure to do so lead to prosecution, but may also put tenants at risk.
This is a checklist of all the legal requirements for private residential landlords in England and Wales. As some of these regulations do change from time to time, I can't guarantee their completeness or accuracy.
The 'How to rent' guide
The UK government provides a guide entitled 'How to rent: the checklist for renting in England'. This should be provided to new tenants at the start of new tenancies, either via email or as a hard copy. It is also worth landlords familiarising themselves with.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Landlords should normally require a deposit from tenants to cover damages other than normal wear-and-tear. By law, these deposits must be secured into a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving the funds.
The three approved tenancy deposit schemes are:
In addition, landlords must provide tenants with 'prescribed information' about the deposit, and where it has been secured. For example, here is the TDS guide for tenants. This is commonly provided as an appendix to the Tenancy Agreement.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
EPCs are used to assess the energy efficiency and carbon emissions of the property, as well as estimate the highest energy efficiency which could reasonably be achieved. This enables tenants to estimate their energy bills.
An EPC must be available to all new and prospective tenants before the tenancy agreements are signed, at the latest. They are valid for a maximum of 10 years, however if you make energy performance improvements you may wish to get a new one to reflect those improvements to prospective tenants.
Gas Safety Check
A gas safety check must be performed by a Gas Safe engineer on an annual basis. Upon completing the inspection, the engineer will award a certification valid for 12 months.
The landlord must furnish any existing tenants with a copy of the updated certificate within 28 days of the inspection. They should provide any new tenants with a copy of the certificate at the start of the tenancy.
Furniture and Furnishings
All furniture provided by a landlord must meet the fire resistance requirements set out in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. This includes items such as beds, mattresses and living room furniture.
Electrical Safety Standards
Since July 2020, landlords have been required to ensure national standards for electrical safety. This requires landlords to ensure that 'fixed' installations are inspected and tested by a qualified engineer, at least every 5 years. This includes wiring, socket-outlets, light fittings and the fuse box.
This should provide landlords with an 'Electrical Installation Condition Report' (EICR) which must be given to new tenants before their tenancy begins.
In addition, landlords should ensure that electric appliances are in a safe working condition. Any plugs, sockets or adapters supplied by the landlord for domestic use must comply with the Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations.
If you are unsure, we recommend that you use a qualified electrician to give you an assessment on these electrical safety requirements.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Landlords of single lets are required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every floor of their rental property. In addition a carbon monoxide alarm must be installed in any room where solid fuel appliances are contained. They must also ensure that each alarm is in proper working order on the day that a new tenancy begins.
Although there is no requirement for a detailed risk assessment, landlords have a duty of care by virtue of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 to control the risk of Legionnaires disease.
Landlords should identify and assess potential sources of exposure, and take steps to mitigate any identified risk.
Many local Councils require landlords to obtain a landlord license before letting out a property.
Contact your local authority to see if this applies in your area.
'Right to rent' immigration checks
Landlords must check that tenants have a legal right to rent residential property in England. This must be conducted before the start of a new tenancy. This involves checking for proof of ID and citizenship.
Right to rent checks continue in the same way until 30 June 2021 for citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, who still have an automatic right to rent. However, the government is expected to equalise this with requirements for non-EU immigrants after this date.
It is important to note that it’s against the law to ask EU, EEA or Swiss citizens to show that they have settled status or pre-settled status when starting a new tenancy. It’s also against the law to only check people you think are not British citizens.
The government's website provides more information on right to rent.