Landlords Legal Obligations
LAW and REGULATIONS for Residential Letting in England and Wales
Various Acts of Parliament cover letting property. There must be adherence to such Acts by both the Landlord and Agent before the Property can be let. Specifically, the Landlord and Agent agree and acknowledge that:
The Agent has a duty to any potential tenant(s) to make sure that both the Agent and Landlord are legally entitled to offer them a tenancy including proof of identity. If the Landlord has a mortgage there may be a requirement for them to obtain the lender’s permission before letting the Property. The Agent may assist and offer advice on how to do this and may take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that the client is entitled to instruct the Agent. If the owner is a leaseholder the terms of the lease must be checked and any necessary consent obtained to let. If there are joint owners, the Landlord must inform the Agent of who they are, and their permission will be needed in writing before the Agent is authorised to act for the Landlord.
Under various laws there are standards to assess whether properties are fit for habitation, the Property must be fit for someone to live in at the point of letting. The Agent will inspect the Property and inform the Landlord of anything it is felt that may not meet those laws. Any repairs that are deemed necessary must be completed before the Agent allows the Property to be let. The landlord is expected to keep the property in an acceptable standard of repair set out under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which cover the properties structure, installations in the property for services and sanitation including sanitary ware and installations for heating and hot water in good repair and working order. Enforcement action can be taken by local authorities in various forms as part of the standard rating system (HHSRS) part of the Housing Act 2004.
All furniture and soft furnishings supplied by the Landlord as part of the tenancy must meet the Fire and Furnishing Regulations 1988.
The Building Regulations 1991 make it a requirement that new dwellings or conversions after 1992 must have adequate fire safety systems under the current building regulations. For older properties or rented properties except Houses of Multiple Occupation this is not compulsory but as best practice we recommend there is at least one battery smoke alarm on each floor of the property.
The Landlord must have a valid Gas Safety Certificate (CP12) for the Property before the start of the tenancy. This is a requirement under the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1994. The Agent will arrange for this to be in place unless the Landlord already has a valid certificate and chargeable to the Landlord and on a full management service the Agent will arrange to have this completed each year.
Coal, Fuel and Woodburning appliances: Central Heating systems, stoves or appliances that use coal, wood or oil are not covered by the regulations. However, if they are faulty or there is a problem they can also give out carbon monoxide. The Agent advises that these are to be serviced each year and a carbon monoxide detector fitted, we can arrange this if required.
The Low Voltage Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1989 and Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 deal with the safety of electrical appliances and wiring. Although these regulations are not a legal requirement, failing to make sure electrical equipment and appliances are safe is a criminal offence. The Agent recommends an electrical check every five years as best practice and reserves the right to instruct the Landlord to have this completed.
A valid EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) must be made available to viewers and prospective tenants and given free of charge to the eventual tenant. Marketing will only take place once an EPC has been ordered and cleared funds have been received from the Landlord. Once obtained they are valid for 10 years.
The Landlord must inform their insurers once the Property is let. The Landlord should seek specific advice from an Insurance professional about insurance cover to include public liability to make sure that there is no liability in the event of the Tenant or any visitors being injured in the Property. There are also other insurance products available which covers loss of rent and costs if legal action if required. The Agent cannot provide advice on insurance matters and it is the Landlord’s obligation to make sure that there is adequate cover.
If there is a garden, the Landlord needs to indicate to the Agent how they expect the Tenant to maintain it. This will need to become a condition of the tenancy. The Landlord should elect from the following options:
The garden must be maintained according to the time of year.
Recommended if there is not much garden and it just needs to look tidy.
The tenant must mow the lawn, trim the hedges & weed the garden regularly.
Recommended if there is a lawn and some hedges. The Landlord must provide the garden tools the Tenant will need for this, and have an RCD protected electrical supply (an electrical supply with a circuit breaker to prevent electrocution), and provide safety gloves.
The Landlord will provide a gardener and pay 75% of the cost of this, and the tenant must pay 25% of the cost.
Recommended if the gardens are landscaped. As the Office of Fair Trading state that tenants do not have a long-term benefit from the garden, the Landlord should pay the greater share of the cost, as they receive the long-term benefit.
The Landlord must notify the Agent of any restrictions in the lease or freehold documents pertaining to the Property. For example, clauses preventing you from parking caravans or commercial vehicles on the drive. The Agent will not be liable for the departure of a Tenant caused by a restriction that the Agent was not made aware of. Additionally the Landlord will still remain liable for any Agent fees and may be liable to the Tenant for damages.
Whilst the owner is a resident in the uk income tax on rental received from property is entirely the owners responsibility, there are several expenditures which can be offset against tax including Agent’s fees full details of which an accountant would be able to advise on fully. If the Landlord is not a domiciled in the United Kingdom, the Agent must deduct Income Tax at the basic rate, unless the Landlord has registered with the Inland Revenue’s Non Resident Landlord Scheme.
Where the Landlord has the Tenant find only service the contract between Landlord and Agent will cease once the Agents Tenant Find only service has been completed. After this point all Legal Obligations on the Landlord will still apply and be the responsibility of the Landlord including registration of the deposit.