Before a tenant moves in, a landlord needs to be confident that they have: met the rental property requirements from relevant legal documents, ensured that the property is safe to rent, and that they are confident with their tenant’s identity, immigration status, and employment credentials.
This checklist for landlords therefore aims to give landlords peace of mind knowing that they have covered all the essential areas before renting out their property, and will likely have a successful let as a result. Whilst this checklist is primarily focused at private landlords and shorthold tenancies, it can also be used as a reference for social landlords, letting agencies or tenants who wish to become more aware of the letting process, and what the landlord is required to know and provide.
For a broad overview of Fire Safety In Rental Accomodation, see our checklist for landlords below:
Checklist for landlords: Before a tenant moves in
Tenants have the right to rent
It is essential that landlords check that tenants can legally rent the residential property in the UK. The government has issued a range of guidance resources to check your tenant has the right to rent.
Checking your tenants reference
Tenant referencing is an essential part of the letting process, as it gives the landlord reassurance that the tenants are who they say they are.
If there are any doubts about the tenant’s ability to fulfill the tenancy requirements, a guarantor is advisable as an additional safety net (should the offer of a tenancy proceed). This is typical for students
Setting out the legal terms and conditions of the rental property, the tenancy agreement should be fully understood by the landlord and tenant. The government has published a model tenancy agreement for a shorthold assured tenancy.
Go Over Lease and Have Tenant Sign Lease
Both tenants and landlords must sign the lease, and you must provide the tenant with a copy of the lease within 30 days of signing. Landlords should go over the lease section by section to ensure the tenant fully understands.
Collect First Month’s Rent and Security Deposit , and protect the deposit
Deposit protection is a legal requirement for landlords. Landlords must protect deposits within 30 days of receiving the funds.
Make sure heating and plumbing systems are in working order
Landlords should also ensure they have taken meter readings before the tenant(s) move in
Prepare and agree on Inventory
The inventory must be agreed by tenants and landlords either before or at the very start of a tenancy. An inventory must be comprehensive, unbiased and provide a full written report of the condition of the premises. It must be signed and agreed by landlord (or agent) and the tenants.
Make sure your Energy Performance Certificate is up to date
To legally let a property in the UK, Landlords must have a valid EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) and must provide a copy of the certificate to tenants at the start of a tenancy
Have Property Inspected if Required
Some areas require a certificate of habitability, whereby the rental accommodation is inspected the first time it is rented. This may need a re-check every 5 years, or may be every time a new tenant moves in
‘How to Rent’ guide
Make sure you have a “How to rent: the checklist for renting in England” ready either as a printed copy, or via an online link, to provide to tenants once they move in.
Provide Contact information
Provide emergency contact numbers/your email to ensure tenants can get hold of you if necessary.
Safety checklist for landlords
Change the locks
It is fundamental to change the locks before a new tenant moves in. You do not want old tenants to have the keys to the premises, or have access to shared accommodation areas (e.g. HMOs) for security reasons.
It is important to ensure your Gas Safety Certificate is up to date, and tenants are provided with a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in
Multiple Occupation (HMO) premises must have a periodic inspection of their electrical system by a registered electrician every five years. Whilst other rental premises are not legally obliged to do this, it is best practice to do the same. Landlords should also ensure there are regular safety checks on electrical appliances (e.g. cookers and kettles), and ensure devices carry a British Safety Standard sign or CE marking.Fire Safety
Ensure your property is fire safe by following Fire Safety Regulations outlined by the British Standards. Fundamentally, regulations state that it is the landlord’s legal responsibility to ensure detectors are fitted and working at the start of any new tenancy. As outlined in BS 5839- 6 (2013), a smoke alarm must be on every floor of the property, carbon monoxide detectors must be in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire or wood burning stove) and furnishings/furniture should be flame resistant. For more information on how legislation changes throughout the UK see our Fire Safety Standards and Regulations page, our Carbon Monoxide Regulations in the UK blog post or use our Social Housing Toolkit.
Fire alarms should be maintained and regularly tested, so there needs to be clear communication between landlords and tenants about who is responsible for this.
Tenants need to be made aware of escape routes in the event of a fire, and should be made fully aware of the fire safety system in place. For example, if the landlord has installed an interlinking system or not, and the meaning behind the different sounds emitted by the alarms e.g. a CO alarm, smoke alarm, or a chirp that means a low battery.
If you would like to educate tenants about fire safety in the home - with particular reference to the kitchen - you can download and distribute our new guide:
Before, not after!
It is far more beneficial to check all the appropriate areas before a tenant moves in, rather than after, so ensure you have completed all the checklist above before you rent out your property.
If you require any further information or questions about the letting process, we would recommend using the Guild Of Residential Landlords or Property Tribes. For more information about fire safety in social housing, please feel free to download our guide below: