A guide to lettings legislation for landlords

'It's health and safety gone mad!' is a bit of a cliché these days. At times it can seem like every area of day to day life is becoming increasingly tied down in a tangle of red tape.

Of course there are some areas where rules and regulations really do matter and the private rental sector is one of them. For a stress free and mutually beneficial relationship both landlords and their tenants need to know that they’re covered and supported by having set standards and rules to abide by.

Having said that, there are now over a 150 pieces of legislation covering the Lettings sector that affect landlords. That's a big list and it's growing all the time.

So if you rent out property here's a handy guide to help you stay up to date and compliant with the rules.

Fit For Purpose

Most things that we pay for in life have to be 'fit for purpose' by law and in the case of rental properties it's obvious what this means - your property must be suitable for someone to live in throughout the whole of the tenancy.

There are lots of different pieces of legislation that cover the safety of tenants who live in your property but the main body of the law is found in The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

Covering all of England the Act sets out laws covering your obligations as a landlord to make a property fit for human habitation.

Properties must be "free of serious hazards" and if a tenant makes you aware of one you’ll normally need to give them 24 hours’ written notice to fix things.

Repairs & Maintenance

Whether you own one property or a portfolio of different homes you’ll be only too aware of the different repairs and maintenance jobs that will need doing from time to time throughout a tenancy.

Some you’ll be able to do or oversee yourself, while others will need recognised trade bodies to keep a property compliant.

More specifically, the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 in England, Scotland, and Wales outlines that landlords and/or their agents need to carry out safety checks of gas appliances every year.

Any appliances you provide will need to be serviced and maintained by an engineer registered with Gas Safe. They must install and maintain all gas equipment, and carry out an annual gas safety check on all permanent and portable gas appliances and flues. When that’s done it’s your responsibility to obtain and share a Gas Safety Certificate with new tenants or within 28 days of the work with anyone already living there.

Electrical Safety

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 is also something that applies to all tenancies and as a landlord it’s ultimately your responsibility to make sure a property meets its criteria.

Electrical installations in rental properties must be inspected and tested at least every five years by a “qualified and competent” engineer. A copy of the Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) must be supplied to tenants and to the local authority if requested.

Fixing electrical problems must also be done within a maximum of 28 days and proof provided to both parties too.

Landlords also have certain fire safety obligations to adhere to, including making sure there’s a minimum of one smoke alarm on each floor of the property and a carbon monoxide detector in rooms with a solid fuel burning appliance such as a fireplace.

If you let a property as 'furnished’ then all furniture and furnishings must comply with fire and safety regulations too.

Energy Efficiency

Do you think about how your own home uses energy and if there’s anything you could do to either help the environment or lower your bills?

It's not a choice when it comes to being a landlord - you have legal obligations and this is where Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) really come into play.

The Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) Regulations have applied to most domestic private rented properties since 1 April 2020 in England and Wales. As part of this legislation a rental property is now required to have a minimum EPC rating of E and all ratings have to be included in their marketing details.

The good news is that the EPC rating reflects the overall energy efficiency of a property and can provide details of typical energy costs and recommendations about how to reduce energy use.

The certificates are issued by an accredited assessor and there are more details on the government website: https://www.gov.uk/buy-sell-your-home/energy-performance-certificates

Hard Work

If this all sounds like hard work, rest assured it's only the tip of the compliance iceberg when it comes to the official responsibilities of being a landlord!

That's why the majority of the ones we deal with use our fully managed lettings services.

As well as making sure that all properties are fully in line and up to date in terms of complying with current laws both national and local, it's our job to keep on top of all the new legislation and any changes made as they happen.

In addition our landlords don't need to worry about getting woken up in the middle of the night with a tenant complaining about a leaking tap or a burst pipe - we look after all the repair and maintenance issues too.

So when you also take into consideration finding the best tenants, vetting them, looking after deposits and collecting the rents, if you use our services you really only need to sit back and watch your ROI grow.

We can make life as a landlord simpler, stress free and more profitable - we can be your property partner for life. Talk to our lettings team today.