All about tenancy documentation
Private landlords in England are required to provide a raft of documentation for new tenants. This has been the case since October 1, 2015. The documents you need to provide include:
- Prescribed information regarding the deposit protection scheme.
- Gas safety certificate.
- EPC certificate.
- How to Rent Guide.
You will lose the right to serve a Section 21 notice if you don’t provide your tenant with these documents. There could also be financial repercussions. You should also of course draw up a tenancy agreement - though this isn't strictly a legal requirement.
Let's look at those documents in more detail.
Pretty fundamental really. The tenancy agreement is the contract between you and your tenant. It outlines the responsibilities of you both. It's your opportunity to set standards and establish boundaries.
Probably the most obvious clauses to include are those regarding the rent. But it needs to include much more. Some of the most important sections will deal with:
How much, how it must be paid and by when. All things to include here. There should also be a clear warning that the return of the deposit may be subject to deductions for damage and non-payment of rent.
As a private landlord you will have your own opinions about pets. Some landlords won't allow them while others are happy to welcome animal owners. Whatever your stance you must explicitly state in the tenancy agreement whether your tenant is allowed pets or not.
Repairs and damages
Outline who is responsible for repairs. You will be responsible for most repairs but list minor repairs which the tenant must sort out for themselves. Make it clear the tenant has a responsibility to maintain the property to the standard illustrated in the inventory. Also include details on how the tenant should report a repair or emergency.
Letting tenants loose with a pot of paint and a brush can be a disaster. Redecorating after a tenant has 'spruced up' your property can be time consuming and expensive. On the other hand allowing tenants to decorate encourages them to look after the property and stay as long term renters. But you need to set boundaries. Explicitly state what can or can't be done. You may allow painting but draw the line at banging nails into a wall. Whatever your rules set them out in the tenancy agreement.
Who pays the bills?
In most cases the tenant will pay the bills including council tax. But you need to say this in the contract.
Sub-letting and other tenants
Sub-letting is something many landlords complain about. Make sure your tenant knows they are not allowed to do this.
Nothing causes more end of tenancy disputes than cleaning. Laying out standards in the tenancy agreement can help to prevent this. Explain the tenant must return the property in the state they found it. In other words it must be clean. Should it not be so you will make deductions from the deposit to pay for cleaning.
Finally, remember you and the tenant must sign and date the agreement. It's not a valid contract otherwise.
You must protect your tenant's deposit. But you also need to provide prescribed information. This should include:
- Information about the deposit protection scheme.
- Which scheme you've used.
- Deposit certificate (or a receipt).
The scheme will supply this information to you. You can then forward to the tenant. You must do this within 30 days of receiving the deposit. There can be severe financial penalties for not following the rules on deposit protection.
Gas safety certificate
If there is gas in the property you must have a valid gas safety certificate. And you must provide your tenant with a copy of that certificate. You should give your tenant their copy at the start of their tenancy.
Since April 1, 2018 all rental properties must have a minimum energy efficiency rating of E. An EPC is valid for ten years but you must give each new tenant a copy of the certificate at the start of their tenancy.
How to Rent Guide
This is a government publication. You must provide your tenant with either a printed or digital copy of the guide. This isn't optional. You must provide this document. You can find more information here.
Remember. If you don't provide the tenancy documentation we've discussed above and the tenancy began after October 1, 2015 you won't be able to serve a valid Section 21 notice.
In addition to the documentation don’t forget to check any required smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. You should also of course complete a right to rent check before your tenant moves into the property.
Private landlords can find tenants fast by listing their property with MakeUrMove the leading online letting agency.