Prior to the start of an Assured shorthold tenancy (AST) you should;
- Ensure the property is safe and free from health hazards.
- Fit smoke alarms on every floor of the property and ensure they are working at the start of the tenancy.
- Fit carbon monoxide alarms in every room using solid fuels, such as wood fires, and ensure they are working at the start of the tenancy.
- Ensure all gas and electrical equipment is safely installed and maintained.
- Have in place a gas safety certificate and provide a copy of the same to your tenant. You will need to ensure you obtain a gas safety certificate every year that the property is tenanted and provide a copy to your tenant also.
- Provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the property to your tenant.
- Inform your building and contents insurer and update your policies if necessary.
- Inform your mortgage lender, if any, and obtain their written consent.
- Obtain your proposed tenant’s original right to rent identification documentation; preferably their original UK passport or alternatively, both their original birth certificate and original driving licence. Copy their original document/s and keep the copy for your records.
- Give your proposed tenant a copy of the governments “How to Rent” document which can be obtained from the following website:
If you do not comply with any of the above you may be subject to court action and/or required to pay compensation/fine/penalty and/or be in breach of the terms of your mortgage and/or insurance.
The above is not intended to be an exhaustive list of the obligations upon you which will vary depending on your type of property and tenant/s.
Should you require legal advice as to the specific obligations upon you as a landlord, contact Bromleys Solicitors for information.
Once the AST has begun you should give the tenant a copy of the AST with any inventory (with any photographic schedule of condition).
The rent under the AST will generally be payable monthly in advance. As such you should hold one month’s rent from the tenant as cleared funds or cash either before or on the date that the AST is dated. You should also hold any deposit money as cleared funds or cash either before or on the date that the AST is dated.
On receipt of any deposit monies, you should then protect the same as soon as possible in a government backed tenancy deposit scheme. This must be done no later than 30 days from the start of the AST.
You should also provide the tenant with the deposit Prescribed Information and Certificate no later than 30 days from the start of the AST. Ask the tenant to sign and date a copy of each of the documents and return them to you to confirm they have received them.
The above is not intended to be an exhaustive list of the obligations upon you which may vary depending on your type of property and tenant/s. Your deposit protection scheme provider will be able to provide you with further information.
It is advisable that you also:
- Give the proposed tenant a receipt for the first month’s rent and deposit monies if you hold the same prior to the AST being dated. This receipt should state how much has been given to you and what each amount is for and whom the money is from. This should settle the proposed tenant’s fears that you may pocket the monies and not give them the AST, as they will be giving you monies before the AST is dated.
- Create and keep an up to date rent ledger for your tenant.
- Create an inventory (with a photographic schedule of condition) of the contents in the property. Ensure your tenant agrees to the inventory and signs and dates the inventory at the same time as the AST and then attach a copy to the AST.
- Give the tenant your/your agents contact details in case of an emergency or otherwise.
- Obtain references from the proposed tenant and carry out credit checks on them to ensure they have good credit ratings before allowing them to become your tenant. If they have a bad credit rating, request a guarantor who can be added to the AST.
- Ask for a guarantor to sign the AST so that they guarantee the tenant’s obligations under the AST, including the tenants liability to pay you rent.
- Keep a copy of all correspondence and notices between you and the tenant and guarantors.
- Take and agree with the tenant the meter readings before the tenant moves in.
- Carry out regular property inspections on giving at least 24 hours’ notice, provided the tenant agrees.
- Carry out the necessary landlord based repairs to the property.
- Use the relevant assured shorthold tenancy procedures for evicting tenant/s including serving a s21 and/or s8 notice, should the tenant not leave when required.
- Do not harass your tenant, force your way into the property or disturb their quiet enjoyment of the property.
- Obtain a duly completed and signed standing order form from your proposed tenant for the amount of the rent to ensure payment of the rent is made directly from their bank account to yours.
- Before the start of the AST, ascertain if the proposed tenant will be on housing benefit. If so, speak to the proposed tenant and local authority to see if the housing benefit can be paid directly to you once the AST begins.
- Retain a copy key to all doors and windows of the property.
The above is not intended to be an exhaustive list of the best practices available to a landlord. Best practices will vary depending on your type of property and tenant/s.
How we can help
Should you need expert legal advice regarding any of the above or indeed any other property law matters, please contact Paul Westwell at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rubina Begum at email@example.com telephone 0161 330 6821.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.