Right to rent’ check
If you’re a landlord and you’re leasing your property in England or Wales, you’ll need to confirm that your tenant (and any adult over 18 living with them) has the ‘right to rent’. As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to check your tenants’ immigration status and take copies of passports or other accepted official documents.
It’s a criminal offence to rent your property out without making sure your tenant legally has the right to live there.
This right to rent rule doesn’t apply in Scotland. However, like in England and Wales, you’re able to carry out background checks on new tenants. For example, you can ask for: photo ID to confirm they are who they say they are; proof that they can afford the rent, such as payslips and bank statements; and references to see if they are reliable and trustworthy.
At the beginning of a tenancy, you need to provide your tenant/s with the following information – either directly or through your letting agent, if you’re using one:
• Your full name, address and contact details
• The property’s Energy Performance Certificate
• If your property has gas, a gas safety certificate
• If you have an assured shorthold tenancy, a copy of the government’s How to Rent guide
• Kids in the house
If you’re letting your property under an assured shorthold tenancy, you must ensure the deposit is held under a government-approved deposit protection scheme. If you don’t, you could face hefty penalties – such as having to pay the tenant between one and three times the deposit as a financial penalty. It can also affect your ability to end a tenancy too.
Health and safety
Your tenant has the right to live in a property that’s safe, free from hazards and in a good state of repair. From 20 March 2019, landlords must make sure their properties are ‘fit to live in’. That means you need to ensure:
• Gas equipment, such as a boiler, is installed by a Gas Safe registered engineer and inspected annually.
• Electrical items supplied by you must be in good working order and safe to use, and that checks are carried out regularly – every 5 years is recommended.
• A working smoke alarm must be installed on each floor of the property.
• If the property has a wood-burning stove, a carbon monoxide detector must be installed in the relevant room.
• If the property is leased furnished, furnishings must comply with Fire and Furnishing regulations. Soft furnishings like pillows, mattresses and sofas must have a ‘Carelessness Causes Fire’ label.
Under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), if there’s rising damp and mould, caused by structural damage such as a leaking pipe or rotten window frame, it’s your responsibility to fix the problem.
Kitchens, bathrooms and toilets must be in a sanitary condition. The landlord is responsible for dealing with pest infestations and carrying out any repairs needed to prevent pests from getting into the property.
On the first day of a new tenancy, check that the smoke alarm and any carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
Repairs and maintenance
Tenants have to report any maintenance issues, as soon as they find them. But, as a landlord, you’re responsible for arranging any structural repairs, including:
• sanitary fittings
• building exterior
• heating and hot water
• electrical wiring
• boiler and gas pipes
• repair or replacement of faulty appliances if supplied by the landlord
Landlords must follow a strict legal procedure if they want to evict their tenants. If they don’t, it’s considered an illegal eviction, which is a criminal offence. In most cases, a landlord will need to get a court order and give written notice (a Section 21) before an eviction can proceed. The exact process depends on the terms laid out in the tenancy agreement.
Tenants have the right to be able to enjoy their home without any unnecessary disturbance. As such, a landlord needs to get permission (usually 24 hours’ notice) before entering a property during the tenancy. However, tenants do have certain responsibilities, including the following.
‘Right to Rent’ documents.
Tenants have to provide any necessary legal documents, such as a passport, so their landlord can confirm they have a ‘right to rent’. Landlords can refuse a tenancy to anyone who doesn’t meet the legal criteria.
Rent and other charges
If you’re renting your home, you’re responsible for paying rent, on time, as outlined in your tenancy agreement. You’re also responsible for any other charges agreed with the landlord, such as utility bills and Council Tax. All fees should be explicitly laid out in your tenancy agreement.
If a tenant, their friends or family members, cause any damage to the property, it’s up to the tenant to arrange and cover the cost of repairs.
Care of the property
Tenants need to make sure the property is kept in a ‘reasonable condition’ throughout the tenancy period. If you’ve just signed a rental agreement, you should be given a full itinerary of all furnishings, appliances and any damages when you move in. At the end of the tenancy, you must leave the property exactly as you found it.
It goes without saying that tenants should avoid aggressive and antisocial behaviour toward neighbours. But they’re also responsible for the behaviour of any visitors to their home.
Keep to the rules of the tenancy.
Most tenancy agreements will have a set of rules that a tenant needs to stick to, such as:
• no smoking
• no pets
• no subletting
• If the tenant doesn’t meet their obligations, the landlord has the right to take legal action and evict them.