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What you need to know - Legal Obligations

All landlords have a duty of care to ensure their tenants are safe. The following outlines the regulations and responsibilities that you have as a landlord in order to stay compliant.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Before you market your property to prospective tenants, you’re required to provide an energy performance certificate (EPC).  EPCs contain information on the typical energy costs and energy use in a property and they give recommendations on how energy consumption can be reduced. The documents, which are currently valid for 10 years, give properties an efficiency rating from A (the most efficient) down to G.  A certificate can only be issued by an accredited assessor.

As of April 2018 you won’t be able to let a property or renew an existing tenancy if the property in question has an EPC rating of below E. Come 2020, even if you have sitting tenants, your property will need to be E or above.

Landlord Gas Safety Certificate

If you provide any gas appliances in the property then you must ensure that annual gas safety checks are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Landlords or their agent must keep a record of the safety check for two years and issue a copy to each tenant within 28 days of the check being completed and issue a copy to any new tenants before they move in.

Electrical Checks

It is important to ensure that all electrical appliances and fittings within the property are safe and in good working order. Unlike gas regulations, there is no law that says you must have a landlord electrical safety certificate, however, you are advised to make visual inspections yourself as landlord or agent and have periodic checks carried out by a qualified electrician if needed.If your property is a HMO of any kind (requiring a license or otherwise) you must have electrical safety checks carried out every five years.

Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Detectors

Since 1 October 2015, when properties are occupied, landlords and their agent must ensure that a smoke alarm is fitted on every floor of the property and a Carbon Monoxide alarm in any room where a solid fuel is burnt (e.g. wood, coal or biomass). Checks must be made by the landlord (or letting agent) to make sure that each alarm is in proper working order on the first day of the tenancy. 

Furnishings

Furniture and Furnishings supplied by the landlord must comply with the Fire Safety Regulations.  The furniture and furnishings fire safety regulations must be maintained so as to meet the relevant requirements regarding ignition and fire safety. These are also requirements imposed in relation to furniture in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

Legionella

Health and safety legislation requires landlords to carry out risk assessments for the Legionella bacteria which cause Legionnaires' Disease and thereafter maintain control measures to minimise the risk. Most rented premises will be low risk but it is important that risk assessments are carried out and control measures introduced.It is acceptable for risk assessments to be carried out by a reasonably competent person, usually the agent or landlord and it is not normally considered necessary to have a professional assessment carried out.

Checking tenants' right to rent

If you’re renting out a property in England, you have an obligation to check tenants’ right to rent. This involves determining whether people are legally allowed to rent residential property in England. You must make suitable checks on all tenants and occupiers aged 18 or over, even if they aren’t named on your tenancy agreement. You have to assess each new tenant, not just those you suspect may not be British citizens.  You’re required to check original documents that allow tenants to live in the UK, making sure this paperwork is genuine and doesn’t show signs of having been changed. You must also make copies of the documents and note the date you conducted the checks.

Deposits

Legislation states that once a new tenancy agreement is signed, you must put the tenant's deposit into an authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme and, within 30 days, notify the tenants with details of where their money is being held.  Castle Estates currently use Deposit Protection Service, more information can be found at www.depositprotection.com

Insurance

If you know that the property will be unoccupied in the longer term,(30 days or more) perhaps while you redecorate, then it’s a good idea to contact your insurer to let them know that the property is empty.Cover for unoccupied let properties can be dependent on taking steps to preserve a lived-in appearance. This could mean simply keeping the driveway tidy, collecting post and monitoring the heating in the winter to prevent frozen pipes.

Many insurance providers have limitations when it comes to covering unoccupied let properties therefore check with your insurer.