Forgetting essential landlord documents can cost thousands
Essential landlord documents are crucial when letting a property. Many believe failing to sort them out will just land a fine.
The problem, though, may only rear its ugly head once landlords need to evict a tenant. To help, online estate agent easyProperty has gathered this list of essential landlord documents. Landlords need most of them to claim possession of their rental.
Document 1: Gas Safety Certificates
If there’s a gas supply at the property, landlords must give tenants a valid Gas Safety Certificate. Without this, landlords can be fined up to £6,000. They can’t serve a Section 21 Notice (used to take back a property at the end of a tenancy), either.
Landlords should arrange annual gas safety inspections.
Document 2: Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
An EPC is another essential landlord documents if you rent a property in the UK. The fine for not having an EPC is lower at £200, but landlords can’t serve a Section 21 Notice without one. The good news is that EPCs last for 10 years from the date they’re carried out.
Document 3: Inventories
An inventory is a key to a treasure chest: without it, landlords are unlikely to get to what’s inside — the deposit. Here’s why a good inventory is one the best essential landlord documents:
- If signed, it gives solid protection from deposit disputes. If there’s no inventory, an independent adjudicator can’t award landlords anything from the deposit
- It gives tenants a checkpoint to see how the rental should be returned. This helps prevent disagreements
- If there’s little change in the property’s condition, it can be used for a different tenancy. Just note small changes.
Document 4: Tenancy Agreements and Deposit Protection
Two essential landlord documents for anyone entering an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.
Help establish the rent, the length of the tenancy, and who lives at the property. Not only does a tenancy agreement highlight the duties of both the landlord and the tenants, it also shows the rights each party has to the property. This should be signed before handing tenants the keys. They don’t have to sign it once they move in.
Be wary of sample agreements online. There are a lot free templates, but it’s vital to check they’ve been approved by proper bodies, are legally compliant, and can stand up in court.
A tenant’s deposit must be protected in a government-backed scheme within 30 days of receiving the funds. Landlords can’t serve a Section 21 Notice until it’s been fully protected. They may have to pay tenants up to three times the deposit amount if they don’t protect it in time.
A tenant’s deposit that’s not protected stops landlords from serving a Section 8 Notice. A judge can use their discretion to bring tenants out of arrears with compensation. This means there wouldn’t be grounds for eviction.
Document 5: the ‘How to Rent’ guide
The ‘How to Rent’ guide was introduced to help landlords and tenants know their rights and obligations. Private landlords must give this guide to their tenants, making them aware of their legal rights — including when a landlord can serve notice.
If a landlord hasn’t issued their tenants a copy of the latest ‘How to Rent’ guide, they can’t serve a Section 21 Notice. While there’s nothing to say the guide can’t be given while serving the notice, property lawyer Tessa Shepperson’s advice is to provide it alongside the tenancy agreement or “you may face an argument at court.”
She continues: “Even though you may win such an argument, all arguments at court are best avoided if you can, as they just create delay and expense.”
Document 6: Possession Notices
Possession notices are essential landlord documents if landlords need to take back a property.
A Section 8 Notice is used to take back a property due to a breach of contract, such as unpaid rent.
A Section 21 Notice is used to gain possession of a property once a tenancy has ended. Landlords don’t need to give a reason for serving it.
Failure to follow the right steps can see a possession claim thrown out of court.
Shepperson says there are a few prerequisites to serving notices. Some of these include getting the documents listed in this blog before a tenancy starts.
Avoid hassle, court fees, delays, and fines by getting your essential landlord documents sorted.