When moving to a rental property, your landlord is responsible for providing you with a number of tenancy documents. This includes your contract and information specific to your tenancy, as well as safety records and certificates. In this article, we cover documents your landlord should give you, when you should receive them, and why they’re important.
#1 Tenancy agreement
A tenancy agreement or contract is a written or digital document that sets out the legal terms and conditions of the tenancy. Agreements are typically drafted and signed by both parties a few weeks before the tenancy start date.
Every tenancy should have a formal tenancy agreement in place that details:
- The names of all people involved
- The address of the property
- The start and end date of the tenancy
- The rent amount and how this will be paid
- The deposit amount and how it will be protected
- Tenant and landlord obligations
It can also include clauses you and your landlord have agreed to, such as:
- Whether the property allows pets
- Permitted occupiers
- Whether the property can be sublet
- Rules regarding common areas or gardens
- Rent reviews
It’s important to read through your agreement carefully before signing to determine what your rights are and what you are responsible for during the tenancy.
#2 How to Rent guide
The How to Rent guide is an online government document that contains important advice for tenants in England and Wales. The guide details what to expect from your tenancy and what your responsibilities are, as well as your landlord’s legal obligations.
Landlords are responsible for ensuring their tenants receive a copy of the How to Rent guide before the tenancy begins. This became a legal requirement from 1 October 2015.
When receiving your copy of the How to Rent guide, be sure to read it thoroughly. It’s also useful to refer back to if you are ever unsure about your tenant rights.
#3 Deposit Prescribed Information
If you have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST), your tenancy deposit must be registered and protected in a tenancy deposit scheme until the end of the tenancy.
A tenancy deposit, or security deposit, is a sum paid by tenants before they move into a rental property. The deposit can be used to cover costs, such as property damage or rent arrears, and the deposit scheme keeps your money safe and ensures you get back what you are owed at the end of the tenancy.
All deposits taken on assured shorthold tenancies in England and Wales, started after 6 April 2007, must be kept in a deposit protection scheme. The same applies to private residential tenancies in Scotland. Landlords must register their tenant's deposit with one of the following schemes:
England and Wales
Within 30 days of receiving the tenancy deposit, landlords must legally provide their tenants with deposit prescribed information. This includes:
- Details of the deposit amount
- The address of the property
- Contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme administrator
- The name, address and contact details of the landlord and tenants
On a custodial deposit protection scheme, the Custodial Terms and Conditions must also be included in the prescribed information.
Make sure the deposit prescribed information includes all of the above. If it doesn't, you can contact your landlord or letting agent for more details.
#4 Energy Performance Certificate
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a legal tenancy document that displays a property's energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions. Most rental properties require a valid EPC with an energy performance rating of 'E' or above to be legally let.
The EPC rating should be on every property listing advert. If it isn't, you can ask your landlord or agent for a copy. Landlords are legally obligated to provide tenants with a copy of the EPC if they request to see it.
Currently, the minimum EPC rating for rental properties is 'E', but this is expected to increase to 'C' by 2025.
#5 Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) assesses the condition of the electrical systems in a rental property and evaluates how efficiently they work. It ensures the electrics are safe enough for prospective tenants to use and identifies any hazards that need fixing.
As of 1 April 2021, all rental properties must have a valid Electrical Installation Condition Report, which should be organised before the tenancy begins. This is so that any required remedial work identified in the report can be completed before the tenant moves in. An EICR is valid for five years unless otherwise specified in the report.
Properties cannot be legally let without a valid EICR, so it's within your rights as a tenant to request to see a copy if you have not been shown one.
#6 Gas Safety Record
A gas safety record is given after a full inspection of a rental property's gas fittings and appliances. This is carried out to ensure there are no safety risks to tenants. Landlords are legally required to arrange a gas safety check every 12 months with a Gas Safe engineer. When organising this, landlords should confirm a time that suits the tenant first and give them at least 24 hours’ written notice of the visit.
When you first move into a rental property, your landlord must legally supply you with a copy of the gas safety record before the tenancy starts. Remember to check the expiry date on the certificate to ensure it’s valid. If any issues are mentioned in the report, the landlord must get them fixed within 28 days of the report being issued.
If you're already living in a rental property, the landlord should have provided you with a copy within 28 days of the safety checks being carried out. When it comes to the next annual inspection, the same 28-day rule applies.
#7 Property inventory
A property inventory is a tenancy document that provides an in-depth report of the property's contents and condition. Although property inventories are not a legal requirement for landlords, they are highly recommended. Having a complete record of the rental property's condition is extremely useful during deposit disputes.
Inventories are created for all types of rental properties, whether furnished, unfurnished or part furnished. The landlord can produce this themselves, but using a third-party inventory clerk is favoured by deposit dispute adjudicators.
The inventory should include details of:
- Walls and ceilings
- Fixtures and fittings
- Doors and windows
- Kitchen units and appliances
- Bathroom facilities
- Furniture (if part or fully furnished)
- Outbuildings (such as garages or sheds)
If your landlord is providing a property inventory, you should receive a copy when collecting your keys on the day of move-in. It's important to check this as soon as you’ve moved in, ensuring any issues you’ve spotted, no matter how minor, are clearly stated.
If you notice damage that’s not in the inventory, such as mould, marked floors, or broken fittings, take a photo of it and report it to your landlord or letting agent immediately. If the damage is noticed in a mid-term check or end of tenancy inspection and you haven't reported it sooner, it may be assumed that it was caused by you or another tenant and lead to a deposit dispute.
Have any questions?
Are there any tenancy documents you're unsure of? Share your thoughts in the comments below.