Legislation for UK landlords: How to ensure you are compliant

Legislation is an issue of constant change for landlords – and one that can result in significant fines or even prison sentences if not followed to the letter. Yet mistakes can be easy to make.

A recent Government survey into private letting found that a surprising number of landlords do not comply with many basic legal requirements. Some 38 per cent did not check a tenant’s right to rent, while 48 per cent did not issue tenants with the government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide. More worryingly, over 30 per cent of landlords failed to provide adequate carbon monoxide alarms in their properties; a negligence with potentially significant ramifications for all parties involved.

Our legislation checklist is designed to help landlords avoid such pitfalls and enjoy the peace-of-mind of knowing their properties are safe, legal and their paperwork is up to date.

Here’s what you need to know.


Landlord compliance checklist:

1. Do you need a landlord licence?

At present, the only UK-wide ruling that requires a landlord to obtain a licence is if a property is let as an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation). A property is classed as an HMO, according to the government definition, if at least three tenants live there – forming more than one household – and the toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities are shared.

However, individual councils are also able to issue selective licensing, through schemes that tackle poor housing stock or anti-social behaviour – including a 2018 ruling that allows them to define what constitutes an HMO in their area. As such it is best to check with local councils as to the specific licence requirements they impose.

2. Have you carried out right to rent checks on all tenants?

Landlords must check that any tenant or lodger over the age of 18 can legally rent residential property in England. A person will have the ‘right to rent’ in the UK provided they are present lawfully, in accordance with immigration laws – however there is some uncertainty around how Brexit may affect this. 

Prospective tenants still need to be checked even if they are not named on the tenancy or if there is no tenancy agreement

Original documents will be required to prove a tenant’s right to be in the UK, such as ID cards or passports. Landlords can follow the government’s step-by-step online process to undertake the check.

And be warned: failure to complete checks can result in an unlimited fine or up to five years in prison and so it is important to carry out these checks.