5 Landlord’s certificate obligations when renting out

Renting out your apartment to tenants is usually an exciting development. But before you start showing the place or signing any leases, there are a few legal obligations you need to be aware of.
The requirements aren’t too complicated, but one of the common mistakes landlords make when renting is failing to obtain the proper documentation, which can result in hefty fines or even legal trouble down the road.

In this article, we’ll walk you through 5 essential landlord’s certificate obligations when renting out so you can start earning rental income without any legal issues. Read on to learn exactly what you need to provide to tenants as a UK landlord.

Gas safety certificate

As a landlord, one of your most important legal obligations is providing a Gas Safety Certificate for any gas appliances you provide, like a boiler, fire, or hob. This helps ensure the safety of your tenants and compliance with the law.

What is a gas safety certificate?

A Gas Safety Certificate, also known as a CP12 certificate, is an official document issued by a Gas Safe-registered engineer after they have inspected all gas installations and appliances in the rental property. The certificate confirms that all gas equipment has been installed and maintained properly according to safety standards, reducing risks like carbon monoxide poisoning, explosions, or fires.

When do you need a gas safety certificate?

You must provide an up-to-date gas safety certificate:

  • Before a new tenant moves in ;
  • Every 12 months for existing tenants ;
  • Whenever any work is done on gas installations or appliances.

One of the traits of successful landlords is accepting the responsibility to arrange annual gas safety inspections and provide certificates to their tenants. Failure to do so can result in legal penalties.

What does the gas safety check cover?

A gas safety inspection checks that:

  • All gas equipment is properly installed and well-maintained ;
  • There are no gas leaks ;
  • Adequate ventilation and flues are in place ;
  • All pilot lights are lit, and the burners are working properly ;
  • Emergency controls and cut-off valves are clearly marked and functioning ;
  • Carbon monoxide detectors have been installed (if applicable).

Domestic electrical installation certificate

Another essential landlord’s certificate obligation when renting out is a domestic electrical installation certificate for the rental property. This certificate confirms that the electrical installation in the house meets the required safety standards.

To obtain this certificate, you’ll need to hire a qualified electrician to thoroughly inspect the property’s electrical system.
The electrician will check to ensure the following:

  • The condition and safety of electrical outlets, switches, fuse boxes, and wiring ;
  • That there are enough outlets for the size of the rooms ;
  • All outlets and switches are properly grounded and covered ;
  • The amperage of the main power supply is adequate for the property size.

If anything does not meet current electrical safety standards, the electrician will need to make necessary repairs or upgrades before issuing the certificate.

Once the inspection is complete and any issues have been addressed, the electrician will provide you with an official Domestic Electrical Installation Certificate. This certificate is usually valid for 5 years, after which time a re-inspection and new certificate are required. This is one of the various landlord expenses to account for; consider using a property management software like Rentila to track these expenses.

As the property owner, you must provide a copy of this valid electrical certificate to any new tenants before they move in. Failure to do so could result in legal consequences, as you have a responsibility to ensure safe living conditions for your renters.

Energy performance certificate (EPC)

A landlord responsibilities checklist should also include having an Energy Performance Certificate or EPC for any property being rented out. An EPC gives your tenants information about the energy efficiency of the property. It provides an energy efficiency rating from A to G, where A is the most efficient, and G is the least efficient.

Since April 2018, it has been illegal for landlords to rent out properties with an EPC rating of F or G. If your property receives one of these ratings, you’ll need to make improvements to increase its energy efficiency before you can rent it out again. Even for higher-rated properties, making energy efficiency improvements can be beneficial; it can attract high-quality tenants, allow you to charge higher rent, and increase the overall value of your property.

To obtain an EPC, you’ll need to hire an accredited domestic energy assessor. They will visit your property, assess its energy features like insulation, heating, and lighting, and then provide you with the EPC.

EPCs are usually valid for 10 years, so you’ll need to get a new assessment done at least every decade. This is one of the hidden costs of being a landlord one needs to be aware of. Some tenants may request to see an up-to-date EPC before agreeing to rent, so it’s a good idea to get a new one done before listing your property.

Fire risk assessment form

Conducting a fire risk assessment of the rental property is one of the several landlord’s certificate obligations when renting out. This helps identify any potential fire hazards and ensure the safety of your tenants.

What is a fire risk assessment?

A fire risk assessment is an evaluation of a property to pinpoint any dangers that could start a fire. It considers things like the building’s construction, heating and electrical systems, storage of flammable materials, and fire safety equipment. The goal is to determine the level of risk and implement measures to eliminate or minimise hazards.

Why is it important?

Conducting a fire risk assessment is not just a good idea; it’s required by law. As a landlord, you have to uphold health and safety standards to protect your tenants. A proper Fire Risk Assessment shows you’ve taken reasonable precautions and helps avoid liability in the event of a fire-related incident. It can also lower insurance premiums when the risks are low.

How to conduct a fire risk assessment

You’ll need to do a physical inspection of the entire property, inside and out.
Look for any issues with:

  • Electrical installations and appliances: Frayed wires, overloaded circuits, etc.
  • Heating and ventilation equipment: Boilers, heaters, chimneys, etc.
  • Storage of flammable or combustible materials.
  • Fire doors and exits: Ensure they open easily and are unobstructed.
  • Fire alarms and smoke detectors: Test to confirm they are functioning properly.
  • Fire extinguishers: Ensure they have an up-to-date inspection tag and are properly mounted.

Typically, you will need a fire risk assessment checklist for a comprehensive inspection. Fill out the form and take note of every recommendation. Alternatively, you can hire a competent assessor if you don’t have the time or expertise.

Conducting a professional Fire Risk Assessment demonstrates your commitment to responsible property management and safeguarding your tenants. While it does require time and effort, the potential benefits to life safety and risk reduction make it worth the investment.

“Right to rent” check

Conducting checks to ensure prospective tenants have the legal right to rent in the UK is one of the different landlord’s certificate obligations when renting out.

Documentation required

To carry out a “right to rent” check, you’ll need to see original documents from your prospective tenants that prove their legal right to rent.
Acceptable documents include:

  • A passport (either current or expired) that proves the holder is a British citizen or national of the UK and Colonies with the right of abode.
  • A Registration Certificate or Document Certifying Permanent Residence issued by the Home Office to a national of the EEA country or Switzerland.
  • A passport or national ID card showing the holder is a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
  • A Permanent Residence Card issued by the Home Office to the family member of a national of an EEA country or Switzerland.
  • A share code.
  • Genuine immigration documents.
  • Other valid documents like a driver’s licence, a letter from the tenant’s employer, etc.

You must check that the documents are genuine and belong to the prospective tenant. Make and keep copies of the documents for at least 1 year after the tenancy ends. You will find the copy helpful in case of any issue when the tenant is no longer with you.

Timing of checks

You need to conduct “Right to Rent” checks on all prospective tenants before entering into a tenancy agreement or allowing them to occupy the property.
Repeat checks must be conducted:

  • Twelve months after the initial check for tenants with time-limited permission to stay in the UK (e.g. students).
  • Upon the expiry date of a tenant’s permission to stay in the UK (e.g. work visa).
  • At any time, if you become aware that a tenant’s permission to stay in the UK may have changed or expired.

Failure to conduct proper “Right to Rent” checks can result in civil penalties of up to £20,000 per tenant. As a landlord, it’s critical you understand and carry out your obligations to avoid facing legal consequences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What documents must a landlord provide to a tenant?

At the start of a tenancy, landlords must provide tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate, a current Gas Safety Certificate, deposit protection information, and a copy of the property licence.

What are my obligations as a landlord?

As a landlord, your obligations include adhering to all terms outlined in the tenancy agreement. You’re generally responsible for taking care of your property. This involves maintaining the exterior and structure of your property, including the roof, walls, foundations, external pipes and guttering, drains, external doors, and windows, ensuring a safe, habitable environment.

What is the purpose of a landlord’s certificate?

Landlord Certificates serve as crucial evidence of the “relevant landlord” status, helping identify who’s responsible for remediation work costs. They contain details about the lease and any prior remediation works, ensuring transparency and accountability in property management.

Landlord’s certificate obligations when renting out: things to remember

  • All UK landlords are required to provide some certifications to tenants before renting out.
  • These can include a Gas Safety Certificate, Domestic Electrical Installation Certificate, Energy Performance Certificate, Fire Risk Assessment Form, and “Right to Rent” Check.
  • The penalties for failing to comply can be as high as £20,000, as in the case of “Right to Rent” checks.

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