Private landlords

A landlord has the right to:keys and tenancy agreement

  • decide the conditions of the tenancy;
  • charge a market rent on new tenancies;
  • receive rent when due from the tenant;
  • be informed of disrepair;
  • inspect a property for disrepair after giving proper written notice; and
  • be given proper notice when a tenant wishes to leave.

A landlord is expected to:

  • ensure the tenants know their name and contact details, or that of the managing agent;
  • deliver a decent standard of safety and repair;
  • give a rent book if tenants are paying weekly, or give a receipt for payment; and
  • give a legal notice to quit if they wish to repossess a property.

Pre-tenancy checks

A landlord should:

  • make sure they are available for viewings.
  • make an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) available for potential tenants and provide one for your new tenant. The EPC details the energy performance of the property. The certificate must be provided by an approved assessor.
  • provide a tenant with a copy of the gas safety certificate, showing all appliances have been tested within the last 12 months by a Gas Safe registered (formerly Corgi registered) engineer and are safe.
  • ensure furniture complies with current fire safety regulations if it is a furnished letting. Sofas, mattresses, etc should have a label indicating they comply. West Yorkshire Trading Standards will provide further advice if needed.
  • ensure that the electrical system in the property and any electrical equipment supplied are safe. This should be done by a qualified electrician.

Starting the tenancy

  • Ideally the landlord and tenant should check and sign an inventory at the beginning of the tenancy so it is clear what furnishings have been provided.
  • You should provide your tenant with written instructions or show them how to operate the heating system, washing machine, burglar alarm, etc.
  • Check that the smoke alarm is working.
  • Check that you have provided enough keys for the doors and window locks.
  • You can buy standard tenancy agreements from stationary shops such as WH Smith. If necessary, seek advice before drawing up a tenancy agreement. Contact: Housing advice ,or a solicitor for further information.

The tenancy

The tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract, setting out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. As a general rule most new tenancies are assured shorthold tenancies. If your tenant moved in before February 1997, they may have greater security of tenure.

If you are unsure about the status of the tenancy agreement you should seek further advice.

Assured shorthold tenancies

There is no minimum or maximum term (most landlords offer a fixed term of a minimum of 6 months, but you may offer a much longer period).

It is good practice to give a written tenancy agreement, to be signed by all parties at the start of the tenancy. It should include the following:

  • tenancy commencement date;
  • amount of rent payable;
  • when the rent is due;
  • rent review date; and
  • length of tenancy.
Either the landlord, agent or tenant should inform the Council when tenants move into or leave a property. The landlord or their agent can inform the Council by completing the Report a change of tenant - Landlords .

Notice Seeking Possession

If you require possession of your property you must serve a legally valid notice in writing. The type of notice and time scale depend on why you are asking your tenants to move out.

Generally, your tenant cannot give you notice to quit the tenancy before the end of the fixed term. Unless, there is a clause in the agreement allowing them to do so, or you agree to them breaking the agreement.

Your tenant can give one months' notice to expire at the end of the fixed term. Once the fixed term expires and no new fixed term has been agreed, they can give one months' notice.

What do I do with the bond?

If you ask for a bond, you must pay it into a government authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days. The aim of the scheme is to protect the tenant's money and to ensure that disputes are settled fairly at the end of the tenancy.

There are currently three schemes offering tenancy deposit protection:

If you do not use one of these schemes to protect the bond, the County Court can order you to do so. The County Court may also order you to pay three times the bond back to your tenant in way of compensation and punishment.

Failure to protect the bond will also restrict the reasons you can use to evict your tenant.

Rent

Once the rent has been agreed between you and your tenant it cannot be increased during the fixed term unless there is provision in the agreement.

A rent book must be provided if you are collecting the rent weekly. This can be bought from stationary shops, such as WH Smith. It is advisable to give a receipt for any monies received by your tenant.

Local Housing Allowance and Council Tax Benefit

The Local Housing Allowance replaced Housing Benefit in April 2008. It is based on the size of the household, bedroom requirements and the area in which a person lives. Entitlement rules remain the same and are based on a person's income, savings and a proof of a valid tenancy.

The Local Housing Allowance is normally paid to the tenant to forward on to the landlord. In certain circumstances it is possible for the rent to be paid direct to the landlord. For more information contact the Revenues and Benefits Service, phone: 01422 288003.

Repairs and maintenance

In most tenancies you are responsible for repairs and maintenance on:

  • the structure and exterior of the property;
  • sanitary installations, such as baths and sinks;
  • heating and hot water installations; and
  • if you are renting a flat or maisonette, other parts of the building or installations in it, which you own or control and whose repair would affect your tenant.

You should agree with your tenant who is responsible for other repairs. You are not responsible for repairing damage caused by the tenant.

For further information about housing standards, see: Repair and maintenance of houses .

House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Under the Housing Act 2004, a HMO is a building (eg flat) that is occupied by more than one household. Also, in which, more than one household shares an amenity, such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities. This may include bedsits, some shared houses and some flats.

By law we must licence certain types of HMO. This licence is issued under the Traditional Additional Licensing Scheme.

For further information about HMOs and licences, see: Licensing of houses in multiple occupation .

Access to the property

From time to time, you may need access to the property to carry out repairs and inspect its state of repair. You are entitled to do so at reasonable times of the day. You must give 24 hours notice, in writing, of an inspection.

It is advisable to state in the tenancy agreement, arrangements for entering the property. Seek legal advice, if the tenant will not give you access.

Where can I get advice?