If you're thinking of letting your property then you must be aware of your rights, responsibilities and legal obligations to your tenants.
The law protects tenants; in particular, there are laws and procedures that govern:
- Rental deposits
- Health and safety, including gas, electrical and fire safety
- Your obligation to keep the property in repair
- Your obligation to properly process and protect the tenant's personal information under data protection law
- Steps to follow if the tenant falls into rent arrears
- Fees that can be charged to tenants
- For tenancies in England see the government guide: Landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities in the private rented sector
Do you have the right to let the property?
Just because it is your property it does not mean that you have the right to be able to rent it out. Before you can start letting, you must first check that you can and you may need to get consent to let from third parties.
Mortgage lenders - If you have a mortgage on the property, you must get your mortgage lender's agreement to let the property before you do so.
Freeholder - Some properties have a lease as the document of title (for example, flats/apartments and maisonettes. For leasehold properties, you should check the terms of the lease to see whether it gives permission to letting. If necessary, you'll need to get permission from the freeholder (or management company) before you may do so.
Buildings insurer - You should check with your insurer whether your buildings insurance policy will provide cover if the property is let; if it doesn't, you may need to extend the cover.
Landlords have certain statutory obligations to keep the property in repair. In addition to these repairing obligations, they have obligations under health and safety laws.
Landlords must take health and safety seriously; a property offered for letting must be free from health and safety hazards. Your tenants may be able to take legal action against you if the property doesn't meet certain health and safety standards and, as a result, poses a health or safety risk to them.
A landlord's health and safety responsibilities include a requirement to meet:
- Housing standards required for the property to be considered fit for human habitation
- Gas, electrical and fire safety standards.
These repair and health and safety obligations for the landlord are imposed by law and the tenancy agreement can't reduce them.
Landlord's Repair Obligations
The landlord (or managing agent) is generally responsible for carrying out maintenance and major repairs to the property. This includes repairs to the structure and exterior of the property, heating and hot water installations, basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary installations.
The structure and exterior of a flat includes any common areas (such as paths or passageways leading to the property) that the landlord of the flat has rights over (such as a right of access). The landlord is responsible for any loss or damage the tenant suffers as a result of any disrepair to any common areas (even if the landlord doesn't own these areas or hasn't been told of any disrepair to them).
Legal Documents for Landlords
Within this pack, you will find:
- Buy-to-let checklist and profitability calculator
- Residential and assured shorthold tenancy agreement
- Letter requesting references for a prospective tenant
- Notice to tenant(s) of deposit protection scheme
- Privacy notice for landlords
With our New Landlord Pack, you have the facility for a one-time advice call as well as having one of your created documents reviewed by our legal team. More details of the pack are available here.