Legal help, services and support for private residential landlords
Tessa’s Ten Top Tips on the Legal Aspects of Preparing a Property to Rent
Make sure that you have obtained any necessary permission for letting. For example from your leaseholder if the flat is held on a long lease, or from your mortgage company. You also need to ensure you have any necessary planning permission. This may be needed if you are converting a property to an HMO (i.e. a house in multiple occupation)
If you are going to do any building work to the property, check to see whether you need approval under the building regulations (your builder or architect will usually do this for you). Building regulation approval and planning permission are not the same and have to be applied for separately
If there are any gas appliances at the property you will need to comply with the Gas Regulations. The appliances will have to be checked by an engineer registered with the Gas Safe Register, who will give you a certificate. The check must be done before the tenants go in and annually thereafter, and the tenants must be given a copy of the certificate before they move into the property. Further information can be obtained from your local Health & Safety Executive.
You will need to comply with all the various product safety regulations. For example the Furniture and Furnishings Regulations and the Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations. Further information can be obtained from your local Trading Standards Office.
You must fit smoke alarms in all storeys where there is living accommodation and a carbon monoxide alarm in all rooms with a solid fuel burner. These need to be tested on the first day of the tenancy.
Although it is not a general legal requirement at present (unless your property is an HMO), you should get the electrical wiring regularly checked, as you will be held responsible if it is found to be defective.
You must obtain and provide an Energy Performance Certificate to tenants before they move in. Note that the property must have an energy efficiency rating of E or above.
If the property is an HMO, you will also have to comply with the HMO management regulations, and any additional requirements imposed by your Local Authority, plus the fire safety regulations. Check with the Housing section of the Environmental Health department of your local authority for more details. It may be advisable for you to consult a professional fire safety expert to carry out a fire risk assessments. If you are renting bedsits, you will also have to deal with the Heat Network Metering regulations.
Keep records of all work done, all receipts (e.g. for items bought and any repair and other work done), and any certificates and guarantees. It is a good idea to draw up a list of all furniture (making sure to include all upholstered items), electrical equipment, and general consumer products in the property, with a note of their general condition, and to check this over every time the property is vacated and re-let.
Make sure you have adequate insurance cover. Normal household insurance will not be sufficient, you will need an insurance policy specially designed for landlords.