Government issues new guide for landlords and tenants in the private rented sector

The government has issued updated guidance for landlords and tenants who let or rent a property in the private rented sector. It is intended to help tenants understand their rights and obligations when renting from a private sector landlord. It also provides important information for landlords about their legal requirements and the standards they must adhere to.

A tenant's general responsibilities include paying rent and agreed bills on time, looking after the property and being considerate to any neighbours. Unless it is expressly allowed for in a tenancy agreement, tenants are not permitted to sub-let or accept a lodger without agreement from the landlord or letting agent. It is also the tenant's responsibility to report any repairs (and allow access for them to be addressed), as well as regularly ensuring the fire alarm remains in working order.

Landlord must comply with the following legal requirements before a tenant signs the tenancy agreement:

Rent checks
A landlord must check that the tenant is 18 or over and can legally rent in England. Landlords need to be aware that some identity documents must be cross-checked with the Home Office.

Protected tenancy deposits
A landlord must ensure that the tenant's deposit is held in a government-approved deposit protection scheme and the tenant must be provided with information about how the deposit is protected. If this requirement is not fulfilled, the landlord may be liable to pay the tenant between one and three times the amount of the deposit and the tenant cannot be evicted until this amount is paid to them.

Provide documents
A landlord must provide the tenant with the property's Energy Performance Certificate, Gas Safety Certificate and a copy of the government's How to Rent guide. Without these documents being provided to the tenant, they cannot be evicted.

Right to rent check
A landlord must carry out a right to rent immigration check on the tenant and any adult who will be living with them.

Health and safety hazard
A landlord must ensure the property is free from serious health and safety hazards. They are legally responsible to repair any damage to the following:

  • exterior and/or structure of the property
  • sinks, baths, toilets, pipes and drains
  • heating and hot water
  • chimneys and ventilation
  • gas appliances and electrical wiring
  • the common parts of the building.

Gas safety checks
A landlord must arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out every 12 months by a registered engineer.

Smoke alarms
A landlord must install working smoke alarms on each floor of the property and there must be carbon monoxide detectors in each room.

Most landlords in England do meet the above requirements and do not act in the best interests of their tenants. The main purpose of the government guidance is to encourage good practices and ensure high standards throughout every private tenancy.

It is essential that landlords have a clear understanding of the legal requirements of operating in the private rental sector to avoid any enforcement for non-compliance. The guide provides information about the consequences of breaching such requirements.

Further information about the guidance can be found here.

If you have any queries in relation to the guide, please contact Arani Nadarajah at [email protected]