Information for new tenants
Landlords should provide all tenants with information about their tenancy. The minimum requirements are:
for an assured shorthold tenancy (or ‘AST’, the most common tenancy type) in England - that a written statement of terms is provided to the tenant within 28 days of their requesting one
for an occupation contract in Wales - that a written statement of the occupation contract is given to contract holders within 14 days of the date they were entitled to move into the property (or ‘dwelling’)
Having a full written contract is a good way of ensuring both parties are aware of their rights and obligations, and it provides evidence of this that can be used if a dispute arises down the line.
Tenancy deposit information
Landlords must provide tenants with certain prescribed information about their tenancy deposit within 30 days of receiving their deposit. This ensures tenants are made aware of their rights during and at the end of the tenancy. It includes:
details of the tenancy deposit scheme
information on how the deposit is protected
how to apply to get their deposit back
what to do if there's a dispute
Landlords must also give the tenant:
an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property
a current gas safety certificate if the property uses gas
a copy of the Government’s free ‘How to rent’ guide, if the property is located in England
In Wales, it’s good practice to give contract holders a copy of Rent Smart Wales’ similar guide ‘A Home in the Private Sector: a Guide for Tenants in Wales’
an electrical condition report
certain basic information about the landlord (eg their name and address)
If you don't give the tenant this information, you will not be able to serve a No fault eviction notice (ie a Section 21 (Form 6A) notice for England or a Section 173 notice for Wales) to them in future.
Additional requirements for landlords in Wales
For tenancies and properties located in Wales, landlords and their rental properties must be registered with Rent Smart Wales. Failure to comply with this requirement is an offence. In addition, landlords need to apply for a licence if they self-manage the property or, if they don’t, instruct a licensed letting agent.
Beware of the rules on houses in multiple occupation
There are legal requirements relating to the registration of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). A property is an HMO in England and Wales if it is let as a main or only home to at least three tenants who form more than one household and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
An HMO must have a licence from the relevant local authority if it is occupied by five or more persons (ie it is classified as a ‘large HMO’). Be aware that a section 21 notice or section 173 notice won't be valid if the tenant lives in an HMO that should be licensed by the council but isn't.
When deciding whether to issue a licence, the council will check that the property meets an acceptable standard (eg whether the property is large enough for the occupants and is well managed). It may also consider whether the landlord is a 'fit and proper person’. For more information, read HMOs.
Check with your local authority for their policies on HMOs, as there are large fines for non-compliance.
As a landlord, you owe a duty of care to your tenants and you must meet various health and safety obligations under the law. In particular, make sure you consider gas safety, electrical safety, fire safety, and requirements to install certain alarms.
All gas equipment supplied at the property must be installed and maintained by a competent engineer who is Gas Safe registered.
You must also:
carry out a gas safety check every 12 months
keep a copy of the gas safety record of each appliance for at least 2 years
list any defects found and/or any remedial action taken in the certificates
install a carbon monoxide detector near gas appliances
All electrical appliances (eg cookers, washing machines, and heaters) and equipment (eg plugs, leads, sockets, and light fittings) must be safe, undamaged, and carry the British Safety Standard sign. Any faulty items must be removed or replaced.
Landlords must also comply with the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 or The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022. Under both sets of Regulations, private landlords are required to ensure that all electrical installations are inspected and tested by a registered electrician usually at least once every 5 years. The electrician will give a report (ie an Electrical Installation Condition Report, or ‘EICR’) to the landlord which will explain the outcomes of the inspection and will list any investigative or remedial work required. For more information, read Electrical safety in rented property.
Furnishings supplied in the property must meet fire resistance standards. Such items include upholstered furniture, beds, headboards and mattresses, futons, sofa beds, garden furniture, scatter cushions, pillows, and covers. Non-compliant items must be removed before the tenant moves into the property.
Additional fire safety obligations were introduced in England only on 23 January 2023 by the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022. These Regulations only apply to buildings in England that contain two or more domestic premises (eg blocks of flats or houses divided into flats). They require that the ‘responsible person’ for fire safety ensures that:
fire safety instructions are displayed and given to residents (eg containing evacuation strategies and information on what to do if a fire occurs)
information about fire doors and their operation and importance is given to residents, and
residents are reminded about key fire safety information annually
These Regulations also impose additional obligations on responsible persons for qualifying buildings that are more than 11 metres tall and for those more than 18 metres tall. For example, for buildings taller than 18 metres certain fire safety information must be given to the local Fire and Rescue Service and lifts and equipment in the building intended for use by firefighters must be checked monthly for functionality. For more information on obligations under these Regulations, read the government’s guidance on the Regulations.
Note that special fire safety rules apply to HMOs. For more information, read Fire safety in HMOs.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
All dwellings in Wales must have at least one smoke alarm on each floor and this must be connected to the main electrical supply and linked to the other main smoke alarms in the property. Additional alarms on a given floor (ie above and beyond the one required on each floor) need not be linked to the electricity and the other alarms.
All properties in England must have at least one smoke alarm on each floor in which there is at least one room that is wholly or partially used as living accommodation. A room is used wholly or partially as living accommodation if:
the main use of the room is for living purposes, or
a person spends a significant amount of time in the room
Landlords must check smoke alarms are in working order at the start of a new tenancy. They should also make sure they’re located where the tenants can hear them and should consider whether more than one alarm on a given floor is appropriate to ensure the safety of a particular property.
Since 1 October 2022, under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022 and The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022, a carbon monoxide alarm (or CO alarm) must be installed in every room that is partially or fully used as living accommodation and which contains any appliance which burns (or is capable of burning) fuel (eg a gas boiler, wooden stove or open fire). A CO alarm needs not be installed in a room:
that contains a gas cooker
where the appliance burning fuel is only decorative (eg a non-functioning, purely decorative fireplace)
Landlords must check that CO alarms are working on the first day of any new tenancy.
The Building Safety Act 2022
The Building Safety Act 2022 introduces various measures, largely in response to the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, which aim to make leaseholders (ie leasehold property owners as well as tenants) safer in high-rise buildings. The safety obligations imposed by the Act generally only apply to buildings that are:
either 18 metres tall or higher or which have 7 or more storeys, and
contain at least 2 residential units
Responsibility for meeting the Act’s requirements lies with the ‘accountable persons’. Under the Act, an accountable person is somebody who:
owns all or part of the freehold of all or part of the building's common parts (eg stairways outside of individual flats), or
who has a relevant repairing obligation regarding such common parts (this may include leaseholders of individual flats, depending on the terms of their leasehold)
Multiple parties may, therefore, be accountable persons under the Act. For example, leaseholders of individual flats or building management companies. If you’re unsure whether you’re an accountable person, check your lease or sale documents and ask, for example, your head landlord or building management company. You can Ask a lawyer if you need help working out whether the Act’s obligations apply to you.
Obligations under the Building Safety Act 2022 include:
assessing and managing (eg by fixing defects) building safety risks
keeping, maintaining, and reporting certain information about the building (eg about insulation, energy supply, and evacuation routes)
responding to requests for safety information from residents
Additionally, residential high-risk buildings must be registered. Registration involves providing certain key information about the building (including certain fire safety information). Applicable buildings created and occupied on or after 1 October 2023 must be registered before being occupied. Applicable buildings occupied or to be occupied before this date must be registered by 30 September 2023. Registration is the responsibility of an identified ‘principal responsible person’. For more information, read the Government’s guidance on registration.
Much of the Act came into force on 28 June 2022, although some of its provisions are being introduced gradually. For more information, read the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) guidance on the Act.
Additional regional requirements for landlords
Local councils have the ability to impose specific requirements in individual areas with the potential for high penalties in the event of non-compliance.
Fitness for human habitation
It is an implied term of a residential tenancy agreement starting after 20 March 2019 in England that the landlord will ensure that the dwelling is fit for human habitation:
when the tenancy is granted, and
will stay fit for human habitation for the duration of the tenancy
Since 1 December 2022, fitness for human habitation in Wales has been governed by the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 and The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022. They also require that all rented properties are fit for human habitation when the occupation contract begins and throughout.
For more information, read Fitness for human habitation.
While some landlords may set up broadband for their tenants, this is not a legal requirement. However, with the rise of technology, a fast and reliable internet connection has become essential to modern life and landlords are encouraged to facilitate tenants being able to have access to such fast and stable internet.
Under the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Act 2021 landlords are encouraged to do so, by responding to any requests by broadband providers to access the property and provide internet access. Broadband provider access rights are essential to provide and deliver an internet connection as operators are not able to provide their services without the landlord’s permission. Where a tenant requested a faster connection but the landlord ignored their request and the broadband provider’s request, which causes serious delays.
However, under the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Act 2021, broadband providers can apply to the courts in such a situation. This means that if a landlord repeatedly ignored a request for access, the provider can apply through the courts to gain access to the property. Note that this currently only applies to blocks of flats or apartments. Further, broadband providers can only apply to the court if 35 days have passed since the first request was sent and the landlord has not responded.
In order to avoid broadband providers taking the court route, it is recommended that landlords respond to their requests and grant access to any blocks of flats or apartments in an apartment building.
If you handle and process personal data belonging to tenants (for example, in a Landlord reference letter), you'll need to understand your new responsibilities under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This includes safeguarding tenants’ data, making sure you only pass it on if you are legally entitled to do so, and not retaining it for longer than necessary.
It may be necessary to give your tenants a data protection privacy notice telling them what will be done with the data you hold about them. For more information, read Data protection for private landlords.
Transitional provisions in Wales
On 1 December 2022, the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 and associated laws, including The Renting Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) (Wales) Regulations 2022, overhauled rented residential property regulation in Wales. Some of the requirements introduced by this legislation require a significant amount of work by landlords to ensure compliance. Therefore, for converted occupation contracts (ie tenancies that existed before 1 December 2022), landlords have 12 months (ie until 1 December 2023) to ensure their rental properties comply with some of their new landlords’ obligations, including:
the requirement to provide an electrical condition report
the new laws on smoke alarms (until 1 December 2023, they only need to be compliant with the previously applicable standards, ie those stated for England above)