Broadly speaking, as a landlord, you are responsible for treating tenants fairly. The National Landlords Association (NLA) Code of Practice (CoP) says landlords should, ‘act in a fair, honest and reasonable way with all tenants at all times’.
complying with your legal obligations as a landlord around deposits and documentation
ensuring your property is maintained properly
A letting agent may be able to carry out some of these tasks for you. But as the landlord, you’re the person responsible for meeting your legal obligations.
If you’re renting out a property in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales, you must register with the local council. In England, you need to check with your local council to see if you need to register in the area where your property is located.
As a landlord, you’ll need to find and vet tenants. For your own protection, it’s important to take references, and possibly do background and financial checks. For example, if you’re letting a property in England, you need to check your tenant has the legal right to rent in the UK.
If you prefer, you can use a letting agent who can find and vet tenants on your behalf, for a fee.
Once you’ve found a tenant, you must protect your tenant’s deposit in a government-approved scheme within 30 days, or 28 days in Northern Ireland. There are separate schemes for England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
When a tenancy ends, you must return the deposit, provided your tenants:
have met the terms of your tenancy agreement
haven’t damaged the property
have paid their rent and bills
The deposit must be returned within 10 days of the landlord and tenant agreeing how much will be returned.
An EPC contains information about the property’s energy use, typical costs and how this can be reduced. You must show the EPC to the tenants before they rent the property.
In England, you need to give your tenants a copy of the government’s How to rent checklist when they start renting from you. This guide helps tenants understand what their rights are, what responsibilities they have and what questions to ask.
In Scotland, you must give the tenant a tenancy agreement. Tenants in Northern Ireland must be given a statement of tenancy terms and a rent book. In England and Wales, the tenancy agreement can be written or verbal.
It’s important to remember that tenants and landlords have certain legal rights, regardless of what’s written in the tenancy agreement.
Your duties as a landlord can vary, depending on where in the UK the property is. As a landlord you’re obliged to:
keep your property safe and secure
make sure there are no health hazards, such as uneven stairs, damp or mould
ensure gas and electricity are properly installed and that fire safety regulations are met
carry out repairs when necessary
As a landlord, you also have financial responsibilities. For example, you need to ensure tax obligations are met and paid, including income tax on your rental income. Always seek tax advice as tax rules can change, and will depend on individual circumstances.