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The following guidelines will help residential landlords meet their obligations to tenants. If you need any advice on your legal obligations, or are facing a dispute please call Lawson-West to see if we can help.

Gas Safety

Where there are any gas appliances in the property provided by the landlord, the landlord should make sure that annual gas safety checks are carried out. These checks must be carried out by a gas fitter/engineer who is registered on the Gas Safety Register (which has replaced Corgi). A copy must be given to the tenant before the tenant moves in and the check must have been carried out within the 12 months before the new tenant takes up occupation. Checks must be done annually at no more than 12 month intervals and copies of all certificates for checks must be handed over to the tenant.

Fire Safety Order

Where a landlord controls flats, bedsits or hostels there must be a risk assessment in place to comply with the Fire Safety Order. This should be in writing.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)

Before a tenant moves in there must be an energy performance certificate in place for most types of property. This must be made available to prospective tenants and a copy of the certificate given to any tenant who moves in to the property.

Deposits

If you take a deposit from a tenant under an assured shorthold tenancy, the deposit must be protected under one of the three tenancy deposit schemes and information regarding the deposit must be given to the tenant within 14 days of receiving the deposit.

Payments of rent/administration fees

It is very important that advance payments of rent and non returnable administration fees are not confused with deposits. You should always make clear to tenants what money is being taken for; otherwise it could be regarded as a deposit which shall be protected under one of the deposit protection schemes.

Houses in Multiple Occupation

If your property is a house in multiple occupation (e.g. at least three tenants live there forming more than one household, you share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities) an ‘HMO’ licence may well be needed from the local authority.

Electrical inspections

If your property is a house in multiple occupation of any kind then you must have a five yearly electrical safety check carried out by a competent electrician even if you do not need a licence. This will cover shared houses, flats in multiple occupation, bedsits, hostels and certain converted blocks of flats. These are blocks of flats which are not converted in compliance with 1991 (or later) building regulations and less than two-thirds of the flats in the block are owner/owned.

Electrical appliances

Where a property is provided with electrical appliances it is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure that they are safe at the outset of letting.

Fire alarm systems and fire precautions

Where fire alarm systems are provided in a house in multiple occupation, the landlord is responsible for ensuring fire alarms are checked regularly. You must also make sure that the means of escape from the property (normally the halls stairs and landings) are unobstructed. Houses in multiple occupation include shared houses, flats in multiple occupation, bedsits and certain types of converted flats.

Illegal eviction/harassment

You must not harass your tenants. It is unlawful to evict a tenant without a Court Order. You cannot throw a tenant out because he is in arrears with his rent or breaking the terms of his tenancy. You must go to Court to get a possession order. Any possession order obtained must be enforced by the Court Bailiff.

For more information please contact Richard Tomlinson, Jasdeep Rai or Sarah Hickey at Lawson-West on 0116 212 1000.