Information for Landlords
It is important for landlords to understand their legal obligations to their tenants as failure to comply can result in fines, compensation claims or possible imprisonment.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure a property meets all statutory requirements set out in the Housing Acts, Environmental Protection Act, Landlord and Tenant Act and Building Control Legislation. The accommodation must comply with the basic legal minimum standards of the Housing Health and Safety Ratings System (HHSRS) and failure to do so may result in the local authority taking action.
Below are some general notes meant as guidance on a landlord’s responsibilities. Please understand that failure to comply may mean that you cannot gain possession when relying on a Section 21 notice. A section 21 notice's official title in the courts is a 'Notice Requiring Possession (under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988)'. It's used in England & Wales by landlords to evict tenants and to gain possession of a property that is let under an assured shorthold tenancy
Right to rent checks
From 1 February 2016, landlords must carry out immigration checks for prospective occupiers to establish their right to rent in the UK and must do so whilst adhering to the anti-discrimination laws.
Failure to comply can lead to fines of up to £3000 per tenant with possible imprisonment for repeat offenders. The gov.uk website provides more information on the changes.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms
All properties require working fire alarms to be installed on each level of the property with a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms having solid fuel. For more information please see the Health and Safety Executive Guidance.
For more information and to apply for free smoke alarms visit the Cheshire Fire website.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
An EPC needs to be available for prospective tenants of self- contained properties with a full report provided to the actual tenant. Failure to do so may invalidate a section 21 notice. For more information please visit the EPC pages
A current Gas Certificate by a Gas Safe engineer needs to be in place and renewed annually. Failure to do this may invalidate a section 21 notice. Further information can be found on the gas safe website
Tenancy deposit schemes
A deposit must be protected in a tenancy deposit scheme with the prescribed information served within 30 days to the tenant. Failure to do so may mean that a tenant has the right to claim up to three times the deposit back from the landlord and will also invalidate a section 21 notice.
How to rent leaflet
From October 2015 all new tenants or those renewing a fixed term must be given a “How to rent” guide”. Landlords must always ensure that the booklet provided is the most up to date copy.
Repair and maintenance
The exterior and structure of a property including drains and gutters have to be in good repair and utilities in place. Sinks and toilets must remain functioning with a source of heating, including that of water.
The tenant is entitled to “quiet enjoyment” meaning that any inspection needs to be carried out at reasonable intervals. A landlord must give a minimum of 24 notice in writing and must not enter without the tenants permission unless it is an emergency (and then a witness should be present if at all possible).
The duty to inspect and repair is accompanied by the need to respond and act upon a tenant’s notification of a genuine repair issue. If the complaint leads to the serving of local authority notice for remedial action or improvement “no fault” eviction relying on a section 21 notice cannot take place for 6 months.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) Safe and Secure Home tool kit gives useful information on costs and savings.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
The current law states that a HMO must be licensed if there are five or more occupants – living in two or more separate households – and the property is set out over three or more storeys.
But from 1 October 2018, HMOs with five or more occupants will require a licence, regardless of the number of storeys.
If you own or manage a HMO that needs a licence, you can find more information on the Houses in Multiple Occupation page where you can also apply online.
You must make a complete application before 1 October 2018 to ensure you comply with the law and avoid the risk of prosecution and an unlimited fine, or a civil penalty of up to £30,000.
Certain converted blocks of flats known as ‘Section 257 HMOs ’ will still be excluded from mandatory HMO licensing.
More information on Houses of Multiple Occupancy
Ending the tenancy
With Assured Shorthold Tenancies a landlord can only gain possession of a property after serving the correct notice on all tenants. For most tenancies the use of a “no fault” possession route requires a minimum of 2 months notice which cannot expire before the end of the fixed term of the tenancy.
With the introduction of the Deregulation Act a landlord must ensure he uses the specified notice for any tenancy entered into after 1st October 2015.
On 1st October 2015 a number of provisions in the Deregulation Act 2015 came into force. These provisions are designed to protect tenants against unfair eviction where they have raised a legitimate complaint about the condition of their home.
For more information please see Deregulation Act 2015 factsheet (PDF, 234KB).
The shorter notice under Section 8 has to be served in the prescribed manor and may depend on evidencing the grounds. In all cases the property can only be gained through a possession order.