What documents should a potential tenant be expected to show?
1. Right to Rent
A tenant has to show that they are who they say they are, and that they have the right to rent. Proving the right to rent involves submitting documents online or producing them manually to show the landlord. Documents accepted for this step include a residence permit, a residence card, a passport or a national identity card.
Changes to documentation for EEA citizens have taken effect since the 30th June 2021. Read about these changes to Right to Rent post-Brexit.
2. Referencing and Credit Checks
Depending on the landlord’s requirements, a tenant may have to demonstrate a character and/or employment reference. This could involve reaching out to the tenant’s employer and asking their employment details, their income and an insight into their character. This could also involve asking their previous landlord how responsible they are, ascertaining how reliable they are with rent payments and how well they looked after their previous rental.
Often, the landlord or letting agent might run a credit check on a tenant to help determine how reliable they might be with rent payments. It is desirable for a tenant to find out their credit score in advance. If their credit score is less than ideal, they need to find a guarantor to co-sign the tenancy agreement. The guarantor pledges themselves to pay the rent if the tenant cannot.
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What documents should a potential landlord be expected to show?
- Tenancy Agreement
At the outset, it is important to note that a landlord should provide a written tenancy agreement when contracting with a potential tenant. Though oral agreements are binding, a written document will set out the terms of the letting arrangement more thoroughly and in more detail, providing greater clarity and enforceability to both parties. The most basic tenancy agreement for an AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy) should include: the rent amount and payment method, details of any permitted occupiers, required notice periods, the length of the tenancy, and any remaining rights and obligations of the tenant and landlord.
If a tenant has signed the agreement, there are other pieces of information they are entitled to. If the landlord’s property is mortgaged, the tenant should be given notice of this. They have a right to know of any mortgagee’s right to recover possession from the tenant.
- Deposit Protection
- How to Rent
- Contact details
A landlord must also provide their contact details to their tenant. This must include their name, address and a telephone number in emergency situations.
- Safety Certificates
By law there are various certificates a landlord must produce before the tenancy begins. A Gas Safety Certificate must be shown if there are gas appliances in the property. Not showing this certificate is a criminal offence.
A set of regulations brought in 2020 mandates that private landlords inspect and test every electrical installation in the premises at intervals of no more than 5 years. They must supply a copy of the most recent electrical report to any new tenant on the premises. Since 2008 a landlord must produce an Energy Performance Certificate.
To ensure you are aware of the changes introduced by the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, please view our guide.
- Live-in Landlords
There are other documents that might be useful for a landlord to provide to their tenant. If they have lived previously in the property or intend to live in it later, it would be desirable to serve a ground 1 notice. A ground 1 notice allows landlords to reclaim possession of their properties safely at the end of the term under Section 8 Sch 2 Housing Act 1988. This can be included in the tenancy agreement.
- Inventories and appliance guides
It is worth providing tenants with copies of written instructions regarding all appliances and installations. An inventory list is also useful to record what is in the premises in order to claim for damages if anything is broken.
For more information in our article on inventories and rentals.
- Insurance Policies
If applicable, giving notice of an insurance policy is also worth doing. Otherwise, you will not be able to get compensation from your tenants for damages if they invalidate your insurance or cause the premiums to be increased if they fail to comply with its terms. If no notice is given, the tenant is not bound by the terms of a document they have never seen, and so they cannot be held liable.
From looking for the right tenant to making a property safe, creating a tenancy agreement is only one of several responsibilities of a landlord. Legislate is a contracting platform where you can create easy-to-understand and legally valid agreements on your own terms. You can read how to create your first Legislate agreements in our tutorial or watch a short demo. If you would like to try Legislate, sign up or book an introductory call.
The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.