by Ben Luxon July 02, 2019 4 min read

Renting a property comes with a fair few benefits for tenants. You don’t have to deal with refurbishments  when you move in and expensive repair issues are the landlords domain for example. Rightly or wrongly, the law is skewed towards favouring tenants. 

A landlords responsibilities and obligations go far beyond just maintaining the property though. 

In this article we out line 6 legal obligations landlords have towards their tenants.

These are:

  1. Provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  2. Ensure the property(s) are safe!
  3. Place the tenant’s deposit in a government-approved scheme
  4. Ensure that all gas and electrical equipment is safely installed and well maintained
  5. Check that the tenant has the right to rent a property
  6. Provide a copy of the ‘How To Rent Checklist

Provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the property

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) contains recommendations om how top reduce energy consumption and save money, as well; as information about typical energy costs at the property.

The landlord must have an EPC before they market the property and present it up front to any prospective buyers or tenants.

The EPC will also give the property an energy efficiency rating. As of the 1st of April last year (2018) the minimum legal requirement for energy performance is an E rating. Failing to meet these standards can lead to a fine of up to £4,000.

This means that if the property has a rating of F or G, work will need to be done to improve the EPC rating before you are able to rent it out.

Legal Responsibilities Landlords

Place the tenant’s deposit in a government-approved scheme

The tenants deposit needs to be protected by being put into a deposit protection scheme. Proof needs to be provided to the tenant that the deposit is in a protected scheme within 30 days. 

When the tenancy ends the deposit then needs to be returned within 10 days to be compliant with the law.

There are two categories of deposit scheme that Landlords can choose from. These are either Custodial or Insurance-based:

  • Custodial

Landlords hold the entire deposit, using the custodial protection scheme, for the duration of the rental period. At the end of the tenancy, the deposit must be returned according to the agreed amount and the property condition.

  • Insurance-based

With this scheme, the landlord holds on to the deposit during the tenancy, but he (or she) can’t use this money to cover expenses, because the funds legally belong to the tenant. If there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy, the landlord must forward the disputed amount to the insurance protection scheme.

Ensure the property(s) are safe!

Hazards in a rental property are entirely the landlords domain. Poor housing conditions are a leading cause in injuries towards tenants.

Hazards are rated according to how seriously they are going to affect someone, with category One being the most serious.

Examples of category one hazards include:

  • Exposed wiring or overloaded electrical sockets;
  • Dangerous or broken boiler, a faulty gas boiler;
  • Bedrooms that are very cold;
  • Leaking roof;
  • Mould, both visible or invisible;
  • Extremely cold conditions;
  • Fire risks;
  • Rats or other pests;
  • Risk of falling down on stairs, floors or outside paths;
  • Lack of security due to badly installed doors or locks;

The council can take legal action against the landlord if there is category 1 danger in the property.

Ensure that all gas and electrical equipment is safely installed and well maintained

Due to the fact that gas and electrical hazards are category 1 hazards, then it’s unsurprising that great care needs to be taken by the landlord to assure that all gas appliances and electrical systems are kept in good repair, installed correctly and are safe to use.

Landlords should arrange a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry out a gas safety check every 12 months and provide a copy of the landlord’s gas safety record to the tenant.

Legal Responsibilities Landlords

Check that the tenant has the right to rent a property

Legislation came out in 2016 which requires all landlords and agents in England to check the tenants right to rent.

What this means is the tenant needs to legally be able to live in England. This could be British citizens, people from European countries (for now), or those with relevant current visas, for example someone studying abroad.

It is the landlords responsibility then to make sure that the tenant is legally allowed to be renting in England, failing to properly check could lead to being fined up to £3,000 per every tenant living in the property.

Landlords should be provided with an original and genuine document - for example a passport or visa, which proves the tenants rights. They should also check its authenticity as not realising the document is faked is no excuse and does not dissolve the landlords legal responsibility.

Legal Responsibilities Landlords

Provide a copy of the ‘How To Rent Checklist

As part of the new Section 21 legislation for landlords in England that rolled out in October 2015, landlords must provide an up-to-date version of the “How to rent” brochure at the outset of the original tenancy. Landlords are also obligated to give a new copy at the outset of any subsequent tenancy. The checklist can be sent via email to the tenants.

As a side-not there are some changes coming to the section 21 which could make long term tenancies harder for landlords.

There are plenty of other things landlords should be aware of so make sure you keep on coming back to get our regular updates.

You can get a copy of the How to Rent Checklist here.

We hope you found this blog interesting! However, do note that it should not be used as a substitute for competent legal and/or other advice from a licensed professional.

Ben Luxon

"Ben is an author and real estate enthusiast. His interest in all things entrepreneurial has led him to work with real estate professionals all over the world, distilling their knowledge into articles and Ebooks. His love of travelling has taken him to over 10 countries in the last year, where he has sampled the craft beer of them all."


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