This guide explains a landlord’s legal requirement as set out in the most recent UK rules and legislation.
Tenancy deposit protection scheme
In line with legislation, if you rent out your property on an assured shorthold tenancy that began after 6th April 2007, you must place your tenants’ deposits in a protection scheme. From 1st June 2019, the maximum deposit you can ask for is five weeks’ rent, and the deposit must be placed in a tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days of you receiving it. There are several government-approved deposit protection schemes – we use the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
Safety certificates and reports
You are legally required to have the following safety certificates in place. We can instruct a local contractor to complete the required checks and issue the certificates, or you are welcome to arrange this yourself. For more information, please contact us.
- Gas safety record (GSR). This needs to be renewed every 12 months
- Electrical installation condition report (EICR). This needs to be renewed every 5 years. If you fail to provide a certificate, you can be fined up to £30,000
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E or above. New legislation was introduced in 2020 that meant all rental properties – both existing rentals and newly-let homes – must be rated E or above. If your property is rated below E, you must make efficiency improvements before renting it out. The EPC needs to be renewed every 10 years.
Smoke alarm regulations
New smoke alarm regulations in the UK require private landlords to ensure that at least one smoke alarm is installed on every storey of their rental property. If your property has a solid fuel-burning appliance (e.g., a wood or coal-burning stove), you are also legally required to have a carbon monoxide alarm in the same room as the appliance. Landlords can be fined up to £5,000 if they fail to comply with this requirement.
Furniture and furnishing fire safety regulations
If your property is partly or fully furnished, you need to ensure that all furniture complies with the Furniture and Furnishings Regulations (1988).
These fire and furnishing regulations were introduced to improve fire safety and to ensure that in the event of a fire, furniture and furnishings would not release toxic fumes if burnt. Certain items must now have permanent labels on them to show they are fire-resistant and meet specific safety requirements.
Items of furniture that must have a fire label on them include:
- Scatter cushions and other soft furnishings.
Items not covered by the regulation include:
- Mattress covers
- Sleeping bags
- Furniture manufactured before 1950.
Failure to comply with the fire and furnishing regulations is a criminal offence that can result in a fine and/or a prison sentence. If you are unsure whether an item of furniture should have a safety label and one is not present, then you must remove that furniture from the property before the start of the tenancy.
Some practical steps you can take as a landlord are: renting your property unfurnished, only purchasing new furniture with the required labelling in place, and keeping receipts for all furniture purchased in case you need to double-check its safety standards a later date.
House of multiple occupancy (HMOs)
When they hear the term ‘house of multiple occupancy’ (HMOs), people tend to think of 2 or 3-floor dwellings with 5 or more tenants living in them, such as student houses. While this is certainly a type of HMO, it’s not the only one that landlords need to be aware of.
If a property is let as the main home to at least three tenants who form more than one household and who share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen, then it qualifies as an HMO and may require a licence from the local council.
For example: if a property with just one kitchen and bathroom is let to three friends or a couple and a friend they’re not related to, the household would form an HMO.
Whether a house of multiple occupancy needs a licence from the council depends on a number of factors, and the requirements vary between councils – and can even vary from street to street. It’s therefore vital that landlords and agents are aware of the requirements that apply to the rental properties they look after. If you intend to let your property to tenants from more than one household, you will need to contact your local council for more information.