An Introduction to Compliance for Landlords and Tenants
Compared to many other countries around the world, renting in the UK is fairly well regulated, which generally makes for a good experience for both landlords and tenants. Of course, this does mean that there can be quite a lot to think about, but it’s in the best interests of financial security, safety and more. In this article, we’re going to go through the main points of compliance that come into play for rental properties, which is useful information for both landlords and tenants alike.
We’ve split things up into four sections; rights and permissions, money, general maintenance and by far the biggest compliance issue of all - safety.
Rights and Permissions
It’s not overly difficult to decide to become a landlord - there are no qualifications or courses that have to be taken unlike other professions, but there are a couple of things to be aware of.
Some councils in the UK will require a prospective landlord to have a landlord licence before they’re able to rent out a property. This will have a cost associated with it, and usually, the licence requirements are actually dealt with under other compliance issues we’ll cover shortly - it’s just a way of saying you’ve definitely met all of the major criteria.
Right to Rent
Landlords aren’t able to rent a property out to absolutely anyone. Under immigration rules, and more specifically the Immigration Act 2015, landlords must ensure that the person they are planning to rent to is either a British, EEA or Swiss citizen, or that they have the ‘Right to Rent’ under other circumstances.
Surprisingly, there are few specific regulations when it comes to money and contracts in the UK, but there is one important one that’s fairly recent in its implementation.
For a long time, issues over deposits caused considerable friction between former landlords and tenants. The government aimed to resolve this by introducing the Deposit Protection Scheme, which means that deposits must be held by a third party, and disputes resolved through this route too.
Energy Performance Certificate
The government has in recent years made big changes to the way that businesses must present their environmental credentials, and this goes for the rental market too. Landlords must ensure that not only do they have an EPC, but that it is presented to the tenant before the lease is agreed.
Repairs and Maintenance
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 covers a variety of areas in which the landlord is responsible for keeping the property in good order. In general, the landlord is responsible for making sure that things like supply and drainage of water or heating systems are in good working condition.
Gas Safety Certificate
One of the most important pieces of law to be aware of pertains to gas safety. Poorly maintained gas supplies and appliances can be extremely dangerous, and it is the landlord’s obligation to ensure that a property is safe. A Gas Safe engineer must inspect the property and award it a certificate.
Legionnaires Risk Assessment
An often forgotten but nonetheless important requirement for landlords is the risk assessment for legionnaires. It’s their responsibility to identify any potential risks, and then take steps to make sure that they aren’t an issue.
The Housing Act 2004 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 cover the bits of fire safety that apply to landlords. Most of them are common sense, but again it is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure that the property is safe from a fire standpoint. The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 also demand a smoke alarm on every floor, in addition to carbon monoxide alarms wherever there may be solid fuel.
In addition, if there are furnishings in the property, they must meet the standards set out in The Furniture and Furnishings Regulation 1993, though this should go for all types of furniture and furnishings.
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 don’t require a certificate as with gas safety, but there are nonetheless a variety of elements to it that landlords must be aware of. This covers both appliances that might be in the property, as well as the electrical fittings. The Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994 are also relevant.
When it comes to landlord compliance, there can be a lot to think about, which is why training courses and other resources are available. Here at Virtual College, we offer a number of courses relating to housing, which you can find out more about here.