Landlord and tenant advice is something we give out on a daily basis. The lettings process can be confusing at times so it’s understandable that landlords and tenants often have many questions. We’ve put together a list of some recently received questions, with our advice to help you out.
Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs)
Q: I already have an Electrical Installation Condition Report dated July 2020, but my tenants are moving out. I know EICRs have to be completed every five years, but do they also have to be completed if you change over tenancies?Rachel, UK Landlord
Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs) are indeed valid for five years. Landlords only need one certificate every five years, and can provide a copy of the certificate to any new tenant during that five-year period.
The latest regulations require electrical tests to be performed at regular specified intervals, not triggered by a change of tenancy. As such, a change of tenancy does not invalidate an EICR. These regulations have applied in England to all new specified tenancies since 1 July 2020, and all existing specified tenancies since 1 April 2021.
Q: I made a payment of a holding deposit for a property, but I’m unable to move into the property for another four months as my work start date has changed. Can the landlord/letting agent keep my holding deposit?Opeyemi, UK Tenant
A holding deposit is a sum of money paid to reserve a rental property. Both parties have fourteen days from when a tenant pays a holding deposit to enter into a tenancy agreement. This is called the deadline for agreement. Landlords and letting agents can withhold holding deposits if the tenant chooses not to proceed with the agreed tenancy, which states when the tenancy is due to begin.
Landlords can also withhold holding deposits if:
- The tenant has given the landlord or letting agent misleading information
- The tenant has failed a Right to Rent check
The landlord must write to the tenant within seven days to explain why they are withholding the holding deposit. If they don’t, they must return the holding deposit in full.
Tenants should also receive their holding deposit back if:
- The landlord decides not to offer the tenant a tenancy
- No tenancy was agreed upon by the fourteen-day deadline
Rights of access
Q: Can a landlord/letting agent themselves into our flat when we aren’t in and haven’t given our permission?Melissa, UK Tenant
Under the Housing Act 1988, landlords and letting agents must notify their tenants in writing at least 24 hours before they wish to enter the property. Tenants have the right to “quiet enjoyment”. This means they have the right to live in their home without interference from their landlord or letting agent.
Some tenancy agreements will state that the landlord should ask, in writing, to visit only at “reasonable times of the day”, allowing the tenant to prepare for the visit. However, “quiet enjoyment” is an implied term, meaning it’s not needed to be stated explicitly in a tenancy agreement to be enforced.
It is vital for landlords – or letting agents on the landlord’s behalf – to get their tenant’s consent before visiting or organising a contractor to go to the property. If they do enter the property without consent, they will be trespassing and will be in breach of the tenancy.
The only reason a landlord or letting agent can access their rental property without 24 hours prior notice is in the case of an emergency. Emergencies could include:
- A fire in the property
- Structural damage that requires attention
- Suspicion of criminal or violent incidents
- A smell of gas coming from the property
Read more: Landlord’s Right To Access In UK 2021
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
Q: The current EPC on my rental property expires in one year. Do I need to get a new EPC once the old one expires while the existing tenants are still there?Miles, UK Landlord
All properties in England and Wales that have been let since 2008 have required a valid Energy Performance Certificate. Since 1 April 2018, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) required all properties being let or sold in England and Wales to have a minimum EPC rating of ‘E’ or above.
EPCs are valid for ten years. The Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations 2012 state that a rental property is only required to have a valid EPC when being marketed to new tenants. Therefore, if an existing certificate expires during a tenancy, the landlord will not need to get another until they relet to new tenants, or decide to sell.
Without a valid EPC rating of ‘E’ or above, rental properties cannot be legally let. The government have now proposed that all rental properties will need an EPC rating of ‘C’ or above by 2025.
Q: Can permitted occupiers stay in the property if the tenant leaves?Coral, UK Landlord
A permitted occupier is a person that is not a tenant but has permission to stay in a rented property. They have no legal rights to the property and are not required to pay rent to the landlord. The permitted occupier must treat the property with care, however, the tenant is ultimately responsible for them.
Examples of permitted occupiers could be:
- A partner of a tenant
- A child of a tenant who lives at university and returns for holidays
- An older relative that requires full-time care
As permitted occupiers have no legal rights to the property, if a tenancy comes to an end and the tenant moves out, the permitted occupier must leave too. If a tenant gives notice and moves out, and a permitted occupier stays in the property, the tenant is still liable for the rent as they have not left the property in vacant possession.
Find out more about permitted occupiers.
Q: How long do you have to pay the deposit back once the tenant moves out?Robert, UK Landlord
Once any deposit deductions have been agreed upon, the tenancy deposit should be returned to the tenant within ten days. All tenancy deposits should be registered with a tenancy deposit scheme.
If the landlord has protected the deposit under an insured scheme (meaning the funds are stored in the landlord’s bank account), they must pay the deposit back within ten days of the tenant’s request, if not sooner. Landlords do not have to wait for tenants to request their deposit in order to return it.
If the deposit is protected with a custodial scheme (meaning the funds are stored with the scheme) the tenant can request their deposit directly from the scheme. The deposit scheme will contact the letting agent or landlord to agree to the deposit return request.
Got any questions?
If you’re a landlord or tenant looking for some advice, please leave your question in the comments below. We’re here to help.
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DISCLAIMER: This information is general advice and should not be construed as legal landlord advice. If you are uncertain, you should contact your letting agent and/or seek legal help from a professional property lawyer.