Single occupancy, multiple obligations.
A landlord has certain responsibilities when renting out a private property. Failure to meet these obligations may result in a fine or prosecution. Read on to ensure you are aware of your obligations as a landlord of a sole occupancy property/single let private property.
What is a sole occupancy?
Also known as a “single let”, a sole occupancy is a property that is rented for the use of one household. A household can be : (i) a single person; (ii) cohabitating couples whether or not of they are of the opposite sex; or (iii) a family of related people. The key element of a sole occupancy is that the single household has the exclusive right to possess the property. No facilities or amenities such as toilets, kitchens or showers are shared with other households.
What responsibilities are imposed by law on a landlord of a sole occupancy?
Before agreeing to rent out a property, a landlord must do the following:
- Obtain a “landlord license” from your local council if the property is in a selective licensing area.
- Obtain consent to let the property from any superior landlord, mortgagee, lender or insurer.
- Register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) here if you collect, process, or store personal data (e.g. name, phone number, address) of your tenants on any electrical device.
- Conduct a ‘right to rent’ check on the immigration status of potential tenants if the property is in England
At the beginning of the tenancy
The landlord must provide the tenant with the following:
- An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with a minimum rating of ‘E’ before the tenancy agreement is signed;
- A valid Gas Safety Certificate before the tenant moves into the property;
- A copy of the government’s How to rent guide;
- Details (including a certificate) of your chosen government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme, within 30 days of receiving the deposit;
- A copy of the latest Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) if the property is in England.
Throughout the tenancy
These are the standard legal responsibilities of a landlord:
- To repair (i) any damage to the structure or exterior of the property, (ii) any installations for the supply of any water, electricity, gas, sanitation, and space heating, and (ii) all mechanical, electrical and gas appliances that they provide;
- To conduct a Legionnaires Disease Water Check in order to assess and minimise the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria.
The property must be kept in the following condition:
- Fit for human habitation i.e. the property must be safe and free from any health hazards;
- All electrical appliances provided by you must be in safe working order, you will ideally hire a qualified election to conduct Portable Appliance Testing (a “PAT”);
- All plugs, sockets, and adapters that you provide must comply with BS 1363 (the current UK standard);
- Take measures to reduce the risk of fire;
- Fire escape routes such as hallways, landings, and staircases must always be free from obstructions;
- Ensure the tenant (and any property manager) knows the evacuation plan in case of a fire;
- All furniture and upholstery you provide must meet current fire resistance requirements. Note that furniture manufactured after March 1989 will comply with these regulations and most will even have a label to prove it;
- Additionally, if the property is England, you must also install:
- A carbon monoxide in any living room or bedroom, in which there is a combustion appliance i.e. an appliance such as a heater or furnace which is powered by a type of solid fuel like coal or wood;
- At least one smoke alarm on every storey of the rental property which is used as living accommodation, then test them on the first day of the tenancy and make a record of it.
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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.