Frequently asked questions for landlords

Here are the top questions which we are asked by private sector landlords.

If you have any other questions or need advice, please contact us:

Where can I find landlord training courses?

The two major national landlord bodies in the UK both provide training opportunities for landlords whatever the size of a particular landlord's property portfolio. The organisations can be contacted via their websites or the alternative methods below:

National Landlords Association

0207 840 8920 (courses)
0207 840 8937 (membership)

Residential Landlords Association

0161 962 0010 or 0845 666 5000

How can I find tenants?

You can contact the council’s housing options team if you would like to go onto their preferred list of landlords or you may need to advertise to find a tenant, in which case you could try the following options:

  • local newspapers and magazines
  • a local letting agency
  • a local estate agent (many now have a lettings department)
  • local shop windows or supermarket notice boards
  • web sites

If you contact a letting or estate agent you will probably have to pay a fee for advertising and renting out your property. They can also manage the property for you, subject to a management fee.

If the property is currently empty you can contact the empty property team for help and advice:

Does my property have to meet any standards before it can be rented out?

Yes, your property will need to meet standards in the following areas:

  • fire safety - precaution standards, particularly in houses in multiple occupation (HMO’s)
  • gas - all appliances and flues must meet the required standards. You must make sure that a valid safety certificate provided by a Gas Safe approved contractor is available at all times for both your tenant and the council to see. For more information you can visit Gas Safe or the Health and Safety Executive
  • planning - make sure that any new or modified building work adheres to planning regulations
  • HMOs (House in Multiple Occupation) - a landlord must hold a licence and the property must meet strict guidelines on the accommodation standards required. If your property is a HMO but there is no need for a licence (fewer than three stories and fewer than five households) you will still need to adhere to the HMO property standards
  • furniture - any upholstered furniture that you supply with the property will need to comply to the Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1988
  • electricity - even if your property does not require a HMO Licence, the electrical wiring and installations in the property must still be modern and safe. We can ask you to provide a valid electrical safety certificate at any time. If you believe that there may be a problem you should have the electrical installation checked, and upgraded if necessary, by a competent electrician

Will my property need to be inspected prior to renting?

We don’t always have to inspect it but in some cases it could be necessary if your property is a HMO. We will prioritise properties for inspection under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

Housing health and safety rating system
Download (2.05MB)

Can a prospective tenant find out how much of the rent is likely to be paid by housing benefit before they sign the tenancy agreement?

Local Housing Allowance is the system where new claims for housing benefit for people renting accommodation from a private landlord are calculated. Before a customer makes a claim for housing benefit or Council Tax Support it is advisable to use the online benefits calculator.

Do I need a licence to become a landlord?

You don’t need a licence to become a landlord, but you may need a licence to operate certain types of dwellings (Houses in Multiple Occupation) or dwellings in Hexthorpe or Edlington.

Do I need to have a written agreement with my tenant?

No, you can let your property with only a verbal agreement, but we strongly advise against this. A tenant can not claim benefits without a valid contract.

A tenancy agreement is a legal document that secures your position as landlord. It’s sensible to put everything in writing so that both you and the tenant have a clear record of both your rights and responsibilities as the landlord and your tenant’s rights and responsibilities. The agreement should include information about:

  • the type of tenancy
  • the length of the tenancy
  • how much rent the tenant should pay and how often
  • who is responsible for repairs
  • how to end the tenancy and the procedure for leaving the property

The tenancy agreement should also show the landlord’s (or agent’s) name and address and a contact telephone number. The unfair contract regulations forbids you to add clauses that are unfair, for example high interest fees for arrears. Neither can you contradict housing law, for example saying that you can enter the property at any time without written notice.

How do I set up a tenancy agreement?

A solicitor would also be able to advise if you have particular requirements, and would help you draft an agreement for a set fee. If you are a member of a landlords association, they usually provide standard tenancy agreements for members free of charge, or at a cost for non-members. However this would not be tailored to specific requirements, and only cover standard areas.

How do I end a tenancy?

The law around ending a tenancy is relatively straightforward. You will normally have to serve a written notice on your tenant. The type of notice depends on when the tenancy started and why you want them to leave.

Do I need planning permission?

You may need approval or planning permission if you are doing any new build, change of use, extension or conversion work.

What does the law require that I provide to tenants?

Essential paperwork includes a tenancy agreement, tenancy deposit protection information, and an energy performance certificate. Regulations cover an annual gas safety check, if relevant give a copy of the safety check record to any new tenant before he or she moves in or to an existing tenant, or tenants, within 28 days of the 12 monthly check.

You should also make sure the property meets fire and electrical safety standards.

For HMO properties, please visit our dedicated House in Multiple Occupation information.

What do I do if my tenant starts to become a nuisance to neighbours or vice-versa?

If your tenants complain about antisocial behaviour, or someone complains to you about your tenants, don’t ignore this. Doing nothing can mean that you lose tenants and money.

Where can I find a reputable builder?

The best way is to find a builder that is Trust Mark certified. 'Trust Mark' is a government initiative set up to help individuals find a reliable trader. Any trader that is ‘trust marked’ means they have had their financial position checked and have signed up to a code of practice that includes insurance, good health and safety practices and customer care.

Is there any group or forum where I can get advice on being a landlord?

Please contact the National Landlords Association on 020 7840 8900 for further details.

Last updated: 25 January 2018 16:49:13