Letting out a property can be a good source of extra income as the cost of living climbs higher, but it shouldn’t be only about making a profit. You’re providing someone with somewhere to call home, and while they have responsibilities to look after your property, you have a number of responsibilities too.

Making sure you’re aware of what your obligations are as a landlord is important, and might save you time and money in the long run, so here’s what you need to know.

What are my legal responsibilities as a landlord?

Your specific responsibilities depend on where you live in the UK. Different rules apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but generally, you’re legally required to meet and maintain safety standards, ensure the property’s kept in a good state of repair, protect your tenant’s deposit, carry out certain checks, and provide tenants with the ‘How to Rent’ checklist.

Many landlords opt to manage their property through a lettings agent and they will usually ensure that all legal requirements are met, but it’s still worth being aware of what you need to do. Your obligations include:

1. Meeting and maintaining safety standards

You’re legally required to keep your rental property safe and free from health hazards. This may seem a little vague, but it basically means that your property should be in a good state of repair, with no structural or superficial damage that could cause harm to your tenant. Specifically, you need to:

Safely install and maintain all gas and electrical equipment

Two of the biggest risks to your tenants are unsafe gas and electrical systems and equipment. As a landlord, you need to make sure that these are correctly installed, working and regularly maintained. You must:

Arrange annual gas safety checks – You must ensure that annual inspections are carried out on all gas appliances and flues. These inspections must be carried out by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer, and you can find one and check this on the Gas Safe Register website. The average cost of this check carried out by a Gas Safe Engineer is around £80, according to Checkatrade.

Maintain a gas safety record – Once your gas safety check has been carried out, you will be given a Landlord Gas Safety Record, which details when the checks were carried out and outlines the date for the next check. You need to provide a copy of this record to your tenants within 28 days of the check being carried out. It’s your responsibility to arrange these checks once a year. 

Adequately maintain any gas systems – All gas pipework, appliances, chimneys and flues need to be kept in a safe condition, so it’s worth checking the manufacturing guidelines as to how often they need to be serviced. Generally, an annual service will ensure that you comply with all maintenance requirements but isn’t mandatory.

Arrange electrical systems checks as well as checks on any electrical items you provide, such as dishwashers, lamps, fridges and so on. In April 2020, new requirements were brought in for England and Scotland which means all new tenancies and existing tenancies must come with a satisfactory Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). These rules will also come into force in Wales from 15 July 2022.

To get an EIRC carried out, you need to get a qualified electrician to inspect your property. They will look at sockets, circuits and the fuse board and let you know whether your property meets the requirements or whether any work needs to be carried out. Once you receive a satisfactory EICR, it’s valid for five years. The cost of the initial inspection and report depends on the size of your property, but on average costs around £212, according to Checkatrade.

Ensure your property meets fire safety regulations

The other big risk to your tenants is fire and as such you are legally required to make sure there’s at least one working smoke alarm installed on every floor of your property and also a working carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a gas boiler, or where solid fuel (such as coal, charcoal, firewood and so on) is used.

You must check that all of these alarms are working at the beginning of each tenancy, and from then on, the responsibility for testing during the tenancy falls with your tenants. However, if the alarms are found to not be working at any point during the tenancy, you might be required to replace the batteries or the alarm.

Provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your property

An EPC gives an overview of your property’s energy efficiency and provides a rating from A (most efficient) and G (least efficient). You’ll need to provide a copy of an EPC whenever you rent out your property, and these documents are valid for 10 years.

To get an EPC, you’ll need to get an accredited assessor who will assess your property and provide you with the certificate, as well as advice on how you could potentially reduce energy use and costs in the property.

Gov.uk offers a search function for accredited assessors, so if you live in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you can use this website, or if you live in Scotland you can use this one.

Have a properly working water system to protect your tenants from Legionella

Legionellla is a type of bacteria that forms in standing water sitting between 20 and 45 degrees celsius and if inhaled, it can cause potentially fatal pneumonia. As a landlord, you have a legal responsibility to check if the property has Legionella in the water system, but you don’t have to carry out a detailed, in-depth inspection. 

Legionella most commonly occurs after a property has stood vacant for a period of time, so it’s worth flushing the water system between lets, making sure all water tanks have well-fitting lids so no debris can get into the water and setting hot water tanks to over 60 degrees celsius to reduce the risk of the bacteria growing.

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2. Ensuring your property is kept in a good state of repair

You might think that any repairs to your property while you’re renting it out are the responsibility of your tenant. However, the truth is that they are only responsible for the general upkeep and management of minor wear and tear and you’re responsible for keeping your property in a good condition. If you don’t keep up with repairs and maintenance and your property falls into a poor state of repair, your tenants have the right to start a claim in the small claims court for repairs under £5,000. In some circumstances, they may carry out the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from their rent.

You’re generally responsible for repairs to:

The structure of your property

This includes the physical structure of your property, but also the condition of the walls, ceilings and floors. If there are any issues with any of these such as broken windows, bubbling plaster, holes in the walls or cracks in the ceiling, it’s your responsibility to arrange the repairs.

Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings

These are the basics of renting out a property, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that they are in good working order.

Heating and hot water systems

These are essential and it’s your responsibility to make sure that they are in good working order. If your tenants report any problems with heating or hot water, you’ll need to arrange inspection and repairs within a reasonable timescale.

3. Protecting your tenant's deposit

While taking a deposit isn’t a legal entitlement, it’s common to do so, and might help to cover the cost of any damage, or missed rent payments during the tenancy. However, if you take a deposit when you rent out your property, you are legally obliged to put it into a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDS). You will usually have the option to choose between a custodial and insured scheme, where either the deposit is held by the scheme itself (custodial) or you or an agent hold the deposit and you pay the scheme to insure it (insured). The following are the approved schemes across the UK:

England and Wales

Deposit Protection Service


Tenancy Deposit Scheme


Letting Protection Service Scotland

Safe Deposits Scotland

mydeposits Scotland

Northern Ireland

Tenancy Deposit Scheme Northern Ireland

My Deposits Northern Ireland

Letting Protection Service NI

If you don’t protect your tenant’s deposit then they are entitled to apply to a county court at any stage during their tenancy, which may mean you have to pay back the deposit or pay the money into a TDS within 14 days.

4. Carrying out checks that your tenant has the right to rent your property if you’re a landlord in England

Skipping this step could mean that you’re renting your property illegally and in the worst scenario, face being sent to prison for five years or an unlimited fine, so it’s really important.

People have the right to rent if they are in the UK legally, and are able to provide evidence of this. As a landlord, before the start of every new tenancy, you are legally required to check that all tenants over the age of 18 that will be living in your property have the right to rent in the UK, regardless of whether they are named on the tenancy agreement. 

To verify their right to rent you need to ask for certain original documents, check they’re genuine and make copies to keep as a record, or you ask them for the ‘share code’ of their biometric residence cards or permits and complete the right to rent process online

The documents you can accept as evidence of someone’s right to rent depend on their nationality:

British citizens must provide evidence of a valid passport or a combination of a valid UK driving licence & original UK birth certificate.

All other nationalities will need to provide a combination of a passport and a valid visa or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). There are also a number of other forms of acceptable evidence that you can read here.

In most cases, the process should be relatively straightforward. However,  if you’re unsure about anything, you should call the Landlord Helpline on 0300 790 6268 for guidance.

5. Providing your tenants with relevant information before the start of their tenancy

You’re required to make sure that your tenants are given a number of documents before their tenancy starts so they have all the information they might need. The list of documents includes: 

  • Your contact details or the details of your managing agent.
  • Tenancy Agreement – While there is no legal requirement to have a tenancy agreement, having one could save you a lot of time and stress. The government has a model agreement you can use, or if you are using a managing agent, they may have their own.
  • Energy Performance Certificate.
  • Electrical Installation Condition Report.
  • Gas Safety Certificate.
  • Evidence of working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TPS) information – Outlining which scheme you are holding their deposit with.
  • How to rent checklist – A document that includes information on renting and your tenant’s rights and responsibilities.
  • Documented inventory with photos – While this isn’t a legal requirement, this will help when the tenancy comes to an end to decide whether the general wear and tear that has happened during the tenancy is reasonable or not.

What other legal requirements might apply to me and my property?

Depending on where your property is, you might need to apply for the Landlord Selective Licensing Scheme (LSLS). While these documents used to only apply to Houses in Multiple Occupation (in which five or more people form at least two separate households), they now also apply to certain areas in the UK. They’re designed to set a specific level of responsibility for your property and ensure standards are met. If you aren’t sure if your property falls into an LSLS area, then it’s worth contacting your local authority to check.

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