Landlords - Lettings Regulations

You’re a landlord if you rent out your property. This means you have responsibilities, which include:


What you need to know

Q: Landlord Responsibilities

Q: Health & Safety Inspections

Q: HHSRS Hazard Ratings

Q: Financial Responsibilities

Q: Making Repairs

Q: When Can You Enter The Property

Q: Common Areas

Q: What Happens If Repairs Aren’t Done Properly

Q: If The Property Is Temporarily Unft To Live In

Q: Repairs & Charging Rent

Q: Rent Increases

Q: When Can You Increase Rent

Q: General Rules Around Rent Increases

Q: Paying Tax

Q: Property You Personally Own

Q: Property Owned By A Company

Q: Costs You Can Claim To Reduce Tax

Q: Residential Properties

Q: Furnished Residential Lettings

Landlord Responsibilities

  • Keeping your rented properties safe and free from health hazards
  • Making sure all gas and electrical equipment you supply is safely installed and maintained
  • Following fire safety regulations
  • Providing an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • Protecting your tenant’s deposit in a government-approved scheme

Health and Safety Inspections

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is used by your council to make sure that properties in its area are safe for the people who live there. This involves inspecting your property for possible hazards - for example, uneven stairs leading to increased risk of falls.

If you own a property and rent it out, the council may decide to do an HHSRS inspection because:

  • Your tenants have asked for an inspection
  • The council has done a survey of local properties and thinks your property might be hazardous

HHSRS Hazard Ratings

Inspectors look at 29 health and safety areas and score each hazard they find as category 1 or 2, according to its seriousness.

You must take action on enforcement notices from your council. You also have the right to appeal enforcement notices.

The council can do any of the following if they find a serious hazard:

  • Issue an improvement notice
  • Fix the hazard themselves and bill you for the cost
  • Stop you or anyone else from using part or all of the property

Financial Responsibilities

You’ll have to pay Income Tax on your rental income, minus your day-to-day running expenses.

If you have a mortgage on the property you want to rent out, you must get permission from your mortgage lender.

Making Repairs

You must keep your property in good condition, and any gas or electrical systems must meet specified safety standards.

When Can You Enter the Property

You have a legal right to enter your property to inspect it or carry out repairs. You must give your tenants at least 24 hours’ notice, although immediate access may be possible in emergencies. Your tenants have the right to stay in the property during the repairs.

You’re normally responsible for repairs to:

  • The structure of your property
  • Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings
  • Heating and hot water systems
  • Anything you damage through attempting repairs

If your property is seriously damaged by a fire, flood or other similar incident, you don’t have to rebuild or renovate it. However, if you do, you can’t charge your tenants for any repairs made.

Common Areas

If you own a block of flats, you’ll usually be responsible for repairing common areas, like staircases. Councils can ask landlords to fix problems in common areas, or to repair a tenant’s flat that’s been damaged by another tenant.

What Happens if Repairs Aren’t Done Properly

If you refuse to carry out repairs, tenants can:

  • Start a claim in the small claims court for repairs under £5,000
  • In some circumstances, carry out the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from their rent

If you don’t make repairs to remove hazards, your tenants can ask the council to inspect the property under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System and to take any action that is necessary

If the Property is Temporarily Unfit to Live in

You can ask tenants to move out during major repairs. Before this happens, you should agree in writing:

  • How long the works will last
  • The tenants’ right to return
  • Details of any alternative accommodation

You can’t repossess a property to do repairs. However, if you’re planning substantial works, or want to redevelop the property, you can apply to the courts for an order for your tenants to leave. The courts are more likely to grant this if you provide alternative accommodation.

Repairs and Charging Rent

If the repairs are very disruptive, your tenants may be able to claim a reduction on their rent known as a ‘rent abatement’. This will depend on how much of the property is unusable.

You may have the right to increase the rent after carrying out repairs and improvements, depending on the tenancy agreement.

Rent Increases

There are special rules for increasing regulated tenancy rents.

When Can You Increase Rent

For a periodic tenancy (month-by-month basis) you can’t normally increase the rent more than once a year without your tenants’ agreement.

For a fixed-term tenancy (running for a set period) you can only increase the rent if your tenants agree. If they don’t agree, you can only increase the rent when the fixed-term ends.

General Rules Around Rent Increases

For a periodic tenancy (month-by-month basis) you can’t normally increase the rent more than once a year without your tenants’ agreement.

For a fixed-term tenancy (running for a set period) you can only increase the rent if your tenants agree. If they don’t agree, you can only increase the rent when the fixed-term ends.

Paying Tax

When you start renting out property, you must tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and you may have to pay tax. If you don’t, you could be charged a penalty.

If you contact HMRC first about any tax you owe, they may consider your case more favourably

Property You Personally Own

You must report income from property rental of more than £2,500 a year on a Self Assessment tax return.

Property Owned By a Company

Count the rental income the same way as any other business income.

Costs You Can Claim to Reduce Tax

There are different tax rules for:

  • Residential properties

Residential Properties

You or your company must pay tax on the profit you make from renting out the property, after deductions for ‘allowable expenses’.

Allowable expenses are things you need to spend money on in the day-to-day running of the property, like:

  • Letting agents’ fees
  • Legal fees for lets of a year or less, or for renewing a lease for less than 50 years
  • Accountants’ fees
  • Buildings and contents insurance
  • Interest on property loans
  • Maintenance and repairs to the property (but not improvements)
  • Utility bills, like gas, water and electricity
  • Rent, ground rent, service charges
  • Council Tax
  • Services you pay for, like cleaning or gardening
  • Other direct costs of letting the property, like phone calls, stationery and advertising

Allowable expenses don’t include ‘capital expenditure’ - like buying a property or renovating it beyond repairs for wear and tear.

Furnished Residential Lettings

You can claim 10% of the net rent as a ‘wear and tear allowance’ for furniture and equipment you provide with a furnished residential letting. Net rent is the rent received, less any costs you pay that a tenant would usually pay, e.g. Council Tax.

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