Entering into an Assured Shorthold Tenancy is a contractual relationship.

Landlords need to take reasonable care or due diligence when letting their properties to ensure they let to tenants who will not only pay the rent on time but take care of the property as well. To do this, they need to know who they’re letting to.

A way to minimise risks is to ask the tenant to verify previous addresses and use their previous landlords as references to find out whether they have had any recorded evictions or issues paying rent. Credit checks are essential to satisfy landlords that the prospective tenant is the person he or she is claiming to be, and to minimise the risk of letting to someone who has had problems with debt in the past. As well as their background history, landlords should consider whether the prospective tenant is currently in settled employment and has a sufficient enough income to pay the rent and bills.

Once you’ve found the right tenant, we would highly recommend that prospective landlords have a robust tenancy Agreement drafted for your exact needs. The benefits are:

  • That it ensures that both parties (the landlord and the tenant) are fully aware of their obligations during the tenancy, and such clarity can even help to avoid disputes during the tenancy. Furthermore it protects both parties in the event of a breach for it is a legal contract.

Are you familiar with the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015?

Before the tenant moves in, the regulations require landlords to install at least one smoke alarm on each storey of the premises and a Carbon Monoxide alarm must be fitted in every room containing a solid fuel burning appliance. Failure to comply with these regulations could result in a criminal conviction and a fine amounting up to £5,000. Landlords must check that they are in proper working order at the start of each tenancy beginning on or after 1st October 2015.

The first day of the Tenancy

On the very first day the tenant moves in, the  Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements England Regulation 2015  requires that landlords must provide tenants with a number of specific documents. These documents are:

  • How to rent – the checklist for renting in England – this provides the tenant with information on the renting process and makes them aware of their rights and responsibilities.
  • Gas Safety Certificate
  • Energy Performance Certificate
  • Deposit Certificate – for tenancy deposits taken on or after 1 April 2013 they must be protected in a government-approved scheme.

For tenancies beginning on or after 1 October 2015, if a landlord is not able to show that they provided the tenant with these documents on the day the tenancy started they run the risk of not being able to evict them via the section 21 route.

Vantage Landlords Legal Services in Leicestershire can help and guide you through the complexities of the legal requirements and draft a robust Tenancy Agreement to protect your property and your rights.

Next time what to do if you are not legally compliant.
by Kirsten Wagner, Legal Assistant