Ensuring you are legally protected as a landlord safety is a very important topic. Here, we will outline your responsibilities as a landlord, and hopefully provide you with some handy tips to staying on top of your property management and legal compliance. Discrimination You have a responsibility to treat all prospective tenants equally and without prejudice. Documents From 1 February 2016 you must ensure any applicants for new tenancies have the right to live in England and rent a property. This includes checking original documents for all adults living in the property. You will also make repeat checks if residents have a limited right to stay in the UK. Gas Your tenants are living in the property, but the property is still yours. As such, that places a responsibility on you to guarantee the safety of your tenants within reasonable circumstance. As a landlord you should ensure all gas safety equipment is safely supplied and installed, including provision for maintenance by a registered engineer. You will carry out an annual gas safety check on each appliance, plus give tenants an up-to-date gas safety check record before they move in. Electric You need to ensure the electrical system is safe, and that all appliances are safe. If any sockets, light fittings, cookers, white goods etc. are faulty or not in full working order, you have an obligation to fix these before the property can be let. Fire A fire alarm must be on each storey of the building, and a carbon monoxide detector in any room with a useable fireplace or wood burner. Escape routes must be accessible at all times. All furniture must also comply with fire safety laws. You should provide fire alarms and extinguishers if the property is a large HMO. Repairs You will look after the property’s structure and exterior – no asking tenants to pay for broken roof tiles. You will also deal with the foundations of a working property – pipes and drains, sinks, baths, heating and hot water, gas appliances and electrical wiring, for example. You will also have to pay for any damage caused by attempted repairs! If you are a landlord for a block of flats or any building with a communal area, you will have a responsibility to deal with staircases and external doors. You will need to detail whether you are okay with tenants making their own repairs. This will be in the tenancy agreement. You also cannot force tenants to make repairs that are your responsibility. Money You have a responsibility to inform your tenants about rent increases, and you will have detailed this in the tenancy agreement. You also cannot force a rent increase – tenants have the right to say no, and this does not entitle you as landlord to evict the tenant. You therefore have a responsibility to not discriminate against tenants who reject a proposed rent increase. You also have a responsibility to protect a tenant’s deposit. The money is still theirs and they are entitled to a portion of it (or all of it) dependent on disrepair in the property at the end of the tenancy. Contacts You must provide a legitimate name and contact address, and should also provide the letting agent’s details if you are working with one. Manners Yes – manners. The property may be yours, but this is the tenants’ home. You have a responsibility to leave them be and live in peace, and must arrange suitable visit times. You may only enter the property ‘uninvited’ in the case of an emergency. You must let your tenants use all rooms, as much water and electricity as they need, and only contact them within reason. Law If you want to evict a tenant, you must abide by the law and follow all necessary procedures, even in outstanding circumstances. Let an Agent Help Landlords have a lot to do, and the business isn’t just about owning a property and collecting rent. It takes work and it takes time. If you do not have the time to look after your entire portfolio, or simply need a helping hand, please feel free to contact your local Ellis & Co office today.