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What is a landlord responsible for?

Owners of rented properties have a range of duties and obligations at every stage of the tenancy.

Broadly speaking, you are responsible for treating tenants fairly. The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) Code of Practice says to, ‘act in a fair, honest and reasonable way with all tenants at all times’. 

This involves:

  • Complying with your legal obligations 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 property owner, you’re responsible for meeting your legal obligations. 

Registering as a landlord

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. 

Finding a tenant

If you own a property you wish to let, 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 could do this on your behalf for a fee. 

Dealing with deposits

Once you’ve found a tenant, you must protect your tenant’s deposit in a government-approved deposit protection 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 on how much will be returned.

Landlord document checklist

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)

An EPC measures how energy efficient a property is, from A (extremely efficient) to G (least efficient). You must show the EPC to the tenants before they rent the property. 

Currently in England and Wales, all domestic rental properties need to have an EPC rating of band E and above to be suitable for letting. 

Explore: Why should you improve your home’s EPC rating?

How to rent: the checklist for renting in England

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.   

Tenancy agreement

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. 

Maintaining the property

Your duties as a landlord can vary, depending on where in the UK the property is. You’re obliged to:

  • Keep your property safe, habitable, and secure
  • Make sure there are no health hazards, such as uneven stairs, damp, or mould
  • Ensure gas and electricity are installed correctly and that fire safety regulations are met
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working
  • Carry out repairs when necessary

Landlord financial responsibilities

You must ensure your tax obligations are met, for example, paying income tax on your rental income. Always seek tax advice, as tax rules can change and depend on individual circumstances. 

Your property may be repossessed if you don’t keep up repayments on your mortgage.

This article was last updated on 15/04/2024, 08:27