Legal landlord documents - Why you need to get them right

By Natalie Deakin

man with his legal landlord documents

Legal landlord documents – why you need to get them right

This post was last updated on October 22nd, 2021 at 01:27 pm

Being a landlord comes with a lot of legal responsibilities – which, unfortunately, also means a lot of paperwork. Fishing out your certificates and putting together your legal landlord documents isn’t exactly a thrilling experience. However, although it may not be the most glamourous part of the job, having the relevant files in place now will seriously help you out when it comes to potential disputes, claims and disagreements.

EPCs, EICRs and gas safety certificates

Energy performance certificates (EPCs) are a mandatory requirement for all homes on the property market – in most cases, you can’t legally let your home without one. An EPC rates your property– from A to G – on its energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions and as of 2018, a property must have a minimum EPC rating of E in order to be let. Unfortunately, only 42% of landlord were aware of this legal requirement.

All rental properties (not just new tenancies and renewals) will require an EPC rating of ‘E’ or above. Read more about it here.

Every year, landlords must renew their Gas Safety Certificate. An annual gas safety check must be carried out by a Gas Safe engineer and clear records must be kept. Along with an EPC, you can’t legally let your home if you skip this step. Additionally, no EPC or Gas Safety Certificate may put you at risk of penalty charges and leave you vulnerable during deposit disputes or insurance claims.

All rental properties (not just new tenancies and renewals) will require an EPC rating of ‘E’ or above. Read more about it here.

Electrical Installation Condition Reports are a legal requirement for all rental properties. As of April 1st 2021, all landlords must get an EICR every 5 years.

Read more: Lettings Definitions And Renting Jargon: 2021 Landlord And Tenant Guide

How to Rent guide

All landlords must present their tenant with a copy of the government’s How to Rent guide. This is a legal requirement that is often skipped. In 2018, only 52% of landlords issued the How to Rent guide to their tenants. For whatever reason, this little booklet isn’t always taken seriously by landlords – but it should be. Not only is it the law, but neglecting to give your tenant a copy will prevent you from issuing a Section 21 notice, claiming rent guarantee insurance and solving deposit disputes.

Tenant referencing

Before you enter into a written agreement, you should carry out a reference check on your tenants. Tenant referencing typically consists of a 6-year credit check, a previous landlord reference and an employment reference. These checks give landlords an insight into their tenant’s history and help to identify any past issues – such as CCJs – that could affect your tenancy.

Legal landlord documents: tenancy agreements

One of the main things you need to get right is your tenancy agreement. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of landlords that don’t get it right – or don’t even have one in place. The most basic tenancy agreement for an AST must include:

  • The address of the property
  • The tenant’s details
  • The landlord’s details – including their service address
  • The deposit amount and DPS details
  • The rent amount and payment method
  • Details of any permitted occupiers
  • Required notice periods
  • The length of the tenancy
  • The rights and obligations of the tenant and landlord

Including this information in a written tenancy agreement in place is beneficial to both landlords and tenants. From the get-go, each party’s expectations are clear and any problems or disputes in the future will be much easier to solve.

Writing a tenancy agreement is not a small task – but we’re happy help. Here at LettingaProperty.com we’ll draft a tenancy agreement for you and ensure its good-to-go.

Legal landlord documents: identification

When looking to advertise your property, landlords will be asked to provide identification. This is usually in the form of:

  • Photo ID – such as a driving licence or passport
  • Proof of ownership – such as a mortgage statement, title deed, consent to let or land registry certificate

Some landlords are shocked – and sometimes insulted – when they are asked for ID, but we have their best interests in mind. This level of verification protects landlords against illegal subletters and ensures that only legitimate property ads are published.

Up next: What Tenants Want: Top 11 Features Tenants Look For In A Property 2021

Legal landlord documents: deposits

When it comes to deposits, there are a few legal landlord documents that you must have in place.

Your Deposit Protection Certificate must be sent to the tenant. They must also receive the prescribed information (containing the details of the DPS) and proof of delivery must be recorded. By law, you must use a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme to store your tenant’s deposit and have the relevant paperwork in check. Without the right documents, you will struggle to solve deposit disputes or make a claim on your rent insurance.

Read more: Tenancy Deposits – Everything Landlords and Tenants Should Know

Inventories and mid-term inspections

A property inventory is essential when it comes to damage-related deposit disputes. It’s a record of your property’s condition at the start of the tenancy. Without one, you will struggle to prove your case if your tenant causes any damage and it’s unlikely you will get to keep any of the deposit.

Mid-term inspections and check-outs are also fundamental supporting evidence in damage deposit disputes. Remember, you must give your tenant at least 24 hours’ notice in writing before visiting the property for any reason.

Book your professional inventory today.

Stay protected

Here at LettingaProperty.com, Rent Protection and Legal Expenses Cover are included in our Complete and Essential Plans. Not only does it provide our landlords with peace of mind, but it also ensures that any potential rent arrears disputes will be soundly settled.

Mr Patel, one of our customers eligible for Rent Protection, was especially thankful of this financial protection when his tenant failed to pay the rent and refused to leave to property.

It’s very much the rent guarantee safety net I wanted, never thought I would have to use, but so glad I opted for it from the word go. Especially as I was able to hand everything over to the professionals and not have to get involved in the matter further.

Mr Patel, LettingaProperty.com Landlord

 If you would like to keep track of all your legal landlord documents and responsibilities, please download our free Landlord Guide to Lettings and Landlord Checklist.

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The Landlord Guide to Lettings

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About Natalie Deakin

Natalie joined LettingaProperty.com in 2014. As the team has grown, she's developed her knowledge and experience, progressing to become Operations Manager. Overseeing every online transaction, from property advertising and tenant referencing to deposit disputes, rent arrears, and renewals – Natalie's team helps our landlords to stay legal and compliant.

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