Section A – Introduction
This Focus Note contains guidance on the statutory requirements that have to be fulfilled before you can let residential property under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). As prudent charity trustees it is important that Managing Trustees take steps to ensure that all relevant statutory requirements are fulfilled before a tenancy is entered into. TMCP cannot approve an AST without confirmation from your letting agent (or the Managing Trustees if no letting agent is involved) that (1) the Managing Trustees have been advised on or recognise their statutory obligations as landlord in respect of the tenancy and (2) the agents or the Managing Trustees will take steps to ensure that all relevant statutory requirements are fulfilled before the tenancy is entered into.
The guidance in this Focus Note sets out the statutory requirements in England only. However, the requirements are very similar in other UK jurisdictions and are in many cases more stringent than the requirements in England. The minimum requirements in terms of Methodist best practice are those applicable to the jurisdiction in which the property is located or those set out in this Focus Note if higher.
Section B – Preparing the property to let on a residential tenancy
There are certain steps that Managing Trustees will need to take to comply with the statutory requirements placed on landlords to get the property ready to be let:
- carry out any work required to ensure that the property is safe and free from health hazards – in other words that it is in a good condition (This should not be a problem if your Quinquennial Inspections are up-to-date and any recommended works have been carried out. Your agent will be able to advise you whether the property is in a suitable condition for the purposes of letting.)
- fit smoke alarms on each floor of the property. These alarms must be tested to ensure that they are in proper working order at the start of the tenancy
- fit carbon monoxide alarms in each room containing a solid fuel burning appliance. It is also best practice to fit such an alarm in rooms containing a gas appliance. These appliances must be tested to ensure that they are in proper working order at the start of the tenancy.
- obtain an Energy Performance Certificate
- arrange for any required gas safety inspections to be carried out.
- ensure that electrical safety tests have been carried out on all electrical appliances. The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 do not specify particular requirements as to when this has to be done but the Electrical Safety Council recommends that testing should be carried out every 5 years or on a change of tenancy. Please note that new electrical appliances usually have a certificate of testing and there is no requirement to provide copies of the certificate(s) to the tenant.
Please refer to the News Article – Legislation Update for further guidance on the requirements and links to government guidance.
Section C – Before finalising the tenancy
Once a tenant has been found and is ready to enter into the tenancy, Managing Trustees will also need to check the current statutory requirements with their letting agent. In addition to any new requirements or recommendations by their agent Managing Trustees or their agent must:
- carry out the “right to rent” checks required under the Immigration Act 2014. Basically, a landlord has to check their tenant’s immigration status to ensure that they have the right to rent. Please refer to the News Article – Legislation Update – Right to Rent which sets out the requirements and links to further guidance.
- serve prescribed information on the tenant including; (1) a paper or email version of the government’s “How to Rent” guide; (2) a record of the annual gas safety check; (3) paperwork relating to the government approved tenancy deposit scheme if a deposit is taken; (3) a free Energy Performance Certificate and (4) a record of any electrical inspections (best practice).
Section D – At the start of the tenancy
At the start of the tenancy the Managing Trustees must ensure that they or their agents test all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to check they are in “proper working order”.
Section E - Further information
Managing Trustees may find the following available guidance of assistance:
Government guidance on landlord responsibilities.
The Government's "How to Rent" Guide. This is the guide that landlords are obliged to provide their tenants with. However, it is also useful for Managing Trustees themselves as it summarises the responsibilities placed on both parties.
Please also refer to TMCP's guidance on Rent Smart Wales:
Please note that this document is to provide guidance and assistance to Managing Trustees and their professional advisers. This guidance note is general in nature, may not reflect all recent legal developments and may not apply to the specific facts and circumstances of any particular matter.
Also note that nothing within the documents and guidance notes provided by TMCP nor any receipt or use of such information, should be construed or relied on as advertising or soliciting to provide any legal services. Nor does it create any solicitor-client relationship or provide any legal representation, advice or opinion whatsoever on behalf of TMCP or its employees.
Accordingly, neither TMCP nor its employees accept any responsibility for use of this document or action taken as a result of information provided in it.
Please remember that Managing Trustees need to take advice that is specific to the situation at hand. This document is not legal advice and is no substitute for such advice from Managing Trustees' own legal advisers.
If you have any queries in relation to the guidance in this Focus Note please contact TMCP Legal for further assistance.