A pre-tenancy administrative aide memoire for residential landlords

Given the increasing number of reluctant landlords, it is perhaps not surprising that Rollits' Property Dispute Resolution Team are coming across an increasing number of private landlords of residential properties who are uncertain as to what documentation they need to provide to a tenant and/or unaware of certain steps that they need to take, both prior to and also at the beginning of tenancy. Whilst conscious of the importance of a written tenancy agreement, some landlords are prejudicing their ability to recover their property at a later date due to the failure to take what are, for the most part, simple administrative steps.

The following is intended to be an aide memoire to be considered by a private landlord granting an assured shorthold tenancy of a private residential property.  It should be considered before a tenancy in entered into to assist a landlord in fulfilling their obligations regarding the provision of information and documentation to a tenant, and to ensure that they do not fall foul of legislation concerning the immigration status of a tenant.  

I stress that the following is not intended to be an exhaustive list of a landlord's legal obligations regarding a residential property. Articles dealing with a landlord's legal obligations and other relevant issues, including guidance on notices to be issued by a landlord to recover their property, can be found on Rollits' website with more articles being added on a regular basis.

Right to rent  

Within a 28 day before the start of a tenancy, a landlord or their property agent must check that each adult (being persons 18 years and older) that will be living at the property as their main or only home has the right to reside, and therefore a "right to rent," in the UK. 

Records of the enquiries made and the evidence provided of the right to reside in the UK should be retained by the Landlord or its agent.  Significant financial penalties can be imposed if an individual living at a property is found not to have a right to reside in the UK and the Landlord/its agent cannot show that they checked the tenant had a right to rent. 

See my previous " Right to Rent Scheme introduced across England from 1 February 2016" article for more details.

 Deposit 

In the majority of cases, a deposit will be paid by the tenant to the landlord. If a deposit is paid, the deposit must be protected in one of 3 tenancy deposit schemes and certain information (known as the "prescribed information"), including who is holding the deposit, must given to whomever paid the deposit within 30 days of the Landlord/its agent receiving the deposit.

A failure to secure the deposit and/or provide the prescribed information will prejudice a Landlord's ability to serve and rely upon a section 21 (often referred to as a 2 month notice). Such a failure may also expose the landlord to a county court claim by the tenant for the return of the deposit and a sum equal to up to 3x the value of the deposit. 

How to rent: The checklist for renting in England 

A landlord must provide the tenant with an up to date government produced booklet called "How to rent: the Checklist for renting in England" at the start of the tenancy. Available for free on-line, this is a booklet which is intended to provide tenants with basic information regarding their rights and responsibilities.

No Section 21 notice can be served and relied by a landlord upon unless the booklet has been provided. 

Energy Performance Certificate ("EPC")

It is against the law to advertise a property for rent without an EPC. A landlord must, therefore, ensure that they have an EPC for any property they rent and should provide the tenant with a copy of the EPC at or around the time the tenancy commences. 

A landlord is unable to serve and rely upon a section 21 notice/2 month notice unless and until an EPC has been provided to the tenant. 

Gas Certificates

Where the property contains gas appliances which have been provided by the landlord, the landlord must ensure that annual gas safety checks are carried out on those appliances and any boilers. A copy of an up to date Gas Safety Certificate must be given to the tenant before the tenant moves in and a gas safety check must have been carried out in the 12 month prior to the tenant taking up occupation. Annual checks must then be carried our with a copy of any new Gas Safety Certificate being provided to the tenant. 

A landlord is unable to serve and rely upon a section 21 notice/2 month notice unless and until an EPC has been provided to the tenant.

If you have any queries arising from this article, would like to suggest a topic for a future article or wish to discuss a contentious property issue, contact Chris Drinkall, Head of Rollits' Property Dispute Resolution Team on 01482 337367 or christopher.drinkall@rollits.com

 

Posted on: 02/09/2016

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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