COVID-19 - how it affects renting

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Landlord responsibilities

Note: due to the effects of COVID-19, some of the information on this page might not currently apply.

Renting out your property is a great way to earn an income, but there are rules that landlords need to abide by.

Right to Rent checks

Since 2016, it’s been a legal requirement for all landlords to check whether their tenants have the right to live in the UK – this applies to both live-out landlords and those living in and renting to lodgers. For more information, see our right to rent checks guide.

Gas safety checks

By law, you have to carry out a gas safety check every year on each property you rent out – this should be done by someone on the Gas Safe Register. 

Electrical safety standards

In June 2020, new government regulations came into force requiring landlords to have all electrical installations in their property inspected and tested by a qualified person, at least every five years. You’ll need to obtain a report from the person conducting the inspection and test, which outlines the results and sets a date for the next inspection and test. This report must be supplied to your existing tenant(s) within 28 days of it being carried out.

You can find more information about the requirements for Electrical Safety Regulations on gov.uk.

Privacy

As a landlord, your tenants are allowed to benefit from ‘the quiet enjoyment of the property’ - so don’t harass or inconvenience them unfairly. You should give your tenants 48 hours' notice if you want to inspect the property – unless it’s an emergency.

If you share your property with a lodger, they don’t have exclusive rights to any part of your property – including the bedroom they’re staying in. This means they can’t install a lock or exclude you from any part of the property, but you should still respect their privacy.

Providing suitable living conditions

It goes without saying, but your tenants must be living in a property that’s fit for human habitation – if it’s in an unhealthy state, the property is illegal under the 1985 Landlord & Tenant Act.

Eviction

It’s illegal to evict a tenant without proper notice. If a tenant refuses to leave you can’t force them to – so check the law before you rent it out so you know where you stand.

If you’re a live-in landlord, you don’t have to serve a specific notice period – you’re only required to give ‘reasonable notice’ if you want your lodger to leave. This is usually 28 days, but can be shorter.

Repairs

Landlords should make sure any repairs are carried out properly and within a reasonable amount of time – you can’t expect tenants to live for weeks without hot water while you get the boiler fixed. It’s their home and they have to live in it.

Tenancy Deposits

It’s a legal obligation that all landlords offering assured short-hold tenancies (ASTs) use a tenancy deposit scheme to protect deposit money. For more information see our page on the scheme.

Live-in landlords are not required to use a scheme to protect deposit money – but you can choose to if you wish.

Registering as a landlord in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

If you’re a landlord renting a property out in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you need to register.

In Scotland: this requires registering with your local authority. Some will do this automatically, but it’s always worth checking. You can register in about 20 minutes using this online registration process.

In Wales: if you’re letting a property on an assured, assured shorthold or regulated tenancy agreement, you need to register with RentSmart (for a £33.50 fee). You’ll also need a licence if you self-manage your property. Landlords in Wales need to complete a training course to get this licence, which can be done online.

In Northern Ireland: all landlords renting out properties with a private tenancy agreement need to register. Live-in landlords with lodgers, however, don’t. You can register online, by phone, email or complete a registration form. The cost is either £70 (or £80 if you’re using the paper form).

For more information on your responsibilities as a landlord visit Shelter online.

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