Laws for UK Landlords

May 15, 2020 | By Guest Poster | Filed in: Landlords.

Are you a landlord in the UK? You’ll need to be aware of your responsibilities and ensure you think about what will keep your tenants happy.

You need to be aware of the ways to keep your tenants happy.

Safety standards

There are responsibilities that you need to meet if you own a property and you’re renting it out to guarantee not only the safety of your investment but of its tenants as well. This simply means that you have to make sure that the property is in a liveable state, and you need to have the following:

  • Gas Safety Certificate;
  • Electrical Certificates; and
  • Fire safety checks.

Gas safety certificate

In accordance with the law, landlords must arrange a gas safety inspection that has to be carried out by a registered Gas Safe engineer every year. As part of the inspection all appliances, installations, air vents, and pipes must be surveyed if they’re safe for usage⁠—and a copy of the certificate must be given to tenants.

Electrical certificates

It is a landlord’s obligation to ensure that all provided electrical equipment such as cables and wires, appliances, and connections are tested annually and, in case of houses of multiple occupancies (HMOs), that a full electrical safety inspection is performed every 5 years as a minimum.

Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994

This regulation generally applies to electrical appliances intended for domestic use that each complies with the appropriate current standard, specifically live and neutral pins on plugs are partly insulated to prevent shocks when removing plugs from sockets and all plugs are pre-wired.

Fire safety checks

This isn’t a specific certificate, but general fire safety is an extremely important set of obligations by which all landlords must abide. Rental properties must have fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. In the case of HMOs, there are additional requirements that reflect the greater risk for your property, including ensuring a protected escape route.

Responsibility for fire safety in relation to furnished properties

Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 provides the fire resistance requirements that a landlord must meet. A criminal offence and a penalty of £5,000 or 6 months’ imprisonment (or both) will be issued for non-compliance.

Fire safety and carbon monoxide regulations for landlords

Landlords in England are required to:

  • have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of the property;
  • have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel appliances are contained (refer to The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm booklet provided by the government for more information); and
  • check that alarms are in proper working order during the first day of the tenancy (only applies to new tenancies).

Obligations of a landlord

Repairs and maintenance

As per section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, the landlord is responsible for repairs and maintaining the good condition of the structure and exterior of the property such as baths, sinks and other sanitary items, roof, chimneys, and walls, among others.

However, this only applies if the tenant has a fixed tenancy contract for under 7 years, else these issues become the tenant’s responsibility. The landlord is not responsible for damages caused by the tenants.

Houses in multiple occupations (HMO) and licensing

Licencing for HMOs will include licencing for:

  • Any tenancy with five or more people that forms two or more households; and
  • Any properties above or below business premises.

These are separate to selective licencing schemes that certain local authorities have recently brought in which HMOs are also subject to additional management regulations.

Declaring taxable rental income

Rental income must be declared upon Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) which means you may have to pay tax if your rental income is above a certain threshold or passes a threshold when combined with other taxable income. Landlords will be fined for non-compliance.

It is advisable to note self-assessment deadlines and set up reminders so you submit returns in as early as possible.

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