Documents Required Before Renting
Our Safer Housing team has put together guidance for renting privately in Nottingham. If you have any questions, contact us.
Landlords must provide their tenants with
- A copy of How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England
- A Gas Safety Certificate from a qualified person
- How your deposit is protected, in which scheme and the necessary paperwork
- An Energy Performance Certificate from a qualified person (should be ‘E’ as a minimum)
- A landlord is also required to do a right to rent check
Landlords do need to remember that if the above aren’t done then they can’t rely on a Section 21 notice if they want to evict a tenant.
It is good practice to provide
- A written tenancy agreement, and an agreed inventory (including pictures)
Even if a tenant has signed up to a written contract, the clauses in it do still need to be fair, which means that a tenant may not be bound if they are unfair.
This doesn’t mean that a clause is legally unfair because it’s not liked.
Here’s some detailed guidance about when a clause might be seen to be unfair
Deposits paid to landlords should be registered in 1 of 3 schemes:
Registration has to happen within 30 days, and you should tell the tenant which scheme it is in as well as to provide information about the scheme itself.
If a landlord doesn’t register a deposit an offence occurs which can see the tenant being awarded three times the value of the deposit in compensation.
Claims on deposits for damage or arrears or any other reason can be made through the schemes.
The tenancy agreement should say how much rent is payable, when it is due and how it should be paid. Rent is often charged in advance, unless stated in the tenancy agreement.
This is the point at which the ‘contract’ starts.
Remember that handing over of money as rent creates a contract. Although a contract should be written down if that hasn’t happened a contract has still begun money has changed hands.
Payment in arrears or advance?
The tenancy agreement should say how much rent is payable, when it is due and how it should be paid.
Rent is often charged in advance, but if that is not stated in the tenancy agreement, the tenant can assume it is in arrears (paid at the end).
Cash payments should always come with a receipt from the landlord or their agent.
It is good practice for all tenants and licensees to have a rent book as a record of rent paid. The rent book, or similar document, must contain the name and address of the landlord, the rent payable and state the type of tenancy granted.
It’s up to the landlord to say how and where they want the rent to be paid, but where a landlord refuses to accept rent the tenant should always hold on to that money in case it is suggested that there are arrears.
It makes sense for a tenant to let the landlord know that the money is available, and this can be done by writing to their address. It is against the law for a landlord not to give an address for correspondence.
Changes to tenant fees
Since the Tenant Fees Act came in there are rules about what new tenants can be charged for, and that includes properties online.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 has been changed so that letting agent transparency will apply to online property portals as well such as Rightmove and Zoopla.
If you hear of any laws being broken we’d like to hear from you:
- Deposits can only be up to the net value of 5 weeks’ of the dwelling concerned
- Holding deposits can be no more than 1 week’s rent
- The amount that can be charged for a change to a tenancy agreement is capped at £50 unless the landlord demonstrates that greater costs were involved. This only applies for changes asked for by the tenant
- Fees can still be charged for the early termination of the tenancy but only if it was requested by the tenant
- Fines for late rent payments or lost keys, etc the cost of these must be evidenced by a Landlord
Checking the property is ready to rent
Unless you know the area, check the property in the day and the early evening or later when the atmosphere and street life can be very different. Reassure yourself the area is right for you.
Outside the property
- Neighbouring Properties: Check their state and signs of vandalism
- Roof: Are there missing tiles or a significant sag in structure?
- Chimney: Check for cracks and leaning structures
- Brickwork: Do they have cracks or appear low quality?
- Guttering and Downpipes: Are they damaged, leaking or in need of clearing? Make sure waste pipes are secured to the building
- Boundary Walls and Fences: Are they solid and provide privacy?
- External Doors and Frames: Are they in good repair? Make sure they are secure
Inside the property
Hallway, Stairs and Landing
- Stairs: Check to see whether or not you can feel the stairs flex when walking on them
- Handrail or Bannister: Typically a handrail will have three fixings on the wall. Look for missing or loose spindles on the stairs or landing
- Lighting: Check whether the lighting is sufficient to light the hall, stairs and landing
- Check the cupboard under the sink: Turn the cold tap on full and check the sink waste and plumbing for any leaks. Does the water drain away quickly? If not there might be a problem with the plumbing or drainage
- Cooker: If there is a cooker, make sure all functions are working. If it’s gas it should have been included in the Gas Safe Register certificate
- Silicone Seals and Splash Backs: Check for mouldy or incomplete tiles
- Kitchen Sink: Check if its clean or damaged in any way
- Ventilation: Ensure that condensation is not excessive and that there is no mould growth present
- Flooring: If there is a vinyl floor are there any rips that could result in tripping while carrying hot pans or kettles?
- The Bath or Shower: If the bath is plastic check for any cracks or splits in the bath. If the bath is cast iron, check the enamelling on the bath, look for missing or raised enamel
- The Wash Hand Basin: Check for significant cracks and check the taps and the plug
- The WC: Check the WC flushes correctly and check for staining, scaling, cracks in the pan and general hygiene
- Splash Back Tiling and Silicone Seals: Check for cracked or loose tiles and poor silicone sealant that is incomplete or ill-fitting
- Bathroom Walls: Check the walls carefully for evidence of mould growth, loose plaster or flaking paintwork
- Ventilation: Ensure that condensation is not excessive and that there is no mould growth present
- Decoration: Is it in good decorative repair? Check if you can redecorate
- Damp and Mould: Check for stains and watermarks, mould growth, or peeling wallpaper on the internal walls and ceilings
- Flooring and Carpets: Check the floor, not just what covers it. Look under rugs to see if they’re hiding any marks or damage
- Electrical Sockets: Check their condition. If they are chipped or cracked they are not safe and will need to be replaced or repaired
- Light Fittings: Check that the light fittings are complete and that they work. You can take a light bulb with you
- Heating: What type of heaters are in the property, radiators, electric heaters, storage heaters or hot air heating?
- Central Heating: Ask to see the service record for the boiler, it should be serviced every year
- Hot Water: To see that all the radiators are working and that there is running hot water from all the hot taps. Ask the landlord to turn on the heating as soon as you go in so you can see if the house warms up
- Gas Fires: Turn on gas fires to make sure they work
- Solid Fuel: If there is any type of solid fuel heating or cooking equipment, by law the landlord must provide a Carbon Monoxide Detector. Make sure one is sited in the same room as any solid fuel burning amenity
- Fire Detection: If there are smoke alarms, or heat detectors or emergency lighting, check that they are all working. By law, the landlord must provide a minimum of one smoke detector on every storey of the property which is used as living accommodation
- Fire Doors: If there are fire doors, do they have a working self-closing device? Do they fit well in the frame and are they able to fully close?
- Soft Furnishings: All soft furnishings should have the British Standard Institution Kitemark on a label to prove the furniture is fire resistant
- Loft: Check if the loft is insulated as this may affect your heating bills and the energy efficiency of the building
Other things to check
- Where are the gas and electric meters? Are they ‘pay as you go’ meters or will you receive quarterly bills?
- Is there a ‘pay as you go’ water meter? Where is the stop tap? Does it work?
- Where is the fuse box?
- What is Included: Is it furnished or unfurnished? Are any white goods (washing machine, fridge/freezer etc.) provided?
By law the landlord must provide the following documents to rent out a property;
- Gas Safe Register Certificate (GSC): This should be provided annually, so check the certificate you are shown is in date
- Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR): This should be checked a minimum of every 5 years, so check the certificate is in date. The certificate will say if the electrics were found to be ‘Satisfactory’ or ‘Unsatisfactory’
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): This will show how efficient the property is at using energy and how this may affect fuel costs. From 1st April 2018, private sector rental properties will need to have a minimum EPC rating of E. This is worth bearing in mind when looking to rent a property
If you are going to decorate the property yourself, change carpets or other fixtures and fittings, ensure you get permission in writing from the Landlord or Agent. If all of these checks are done before renting a property, and actions agreed in writing then disputes with landlords, later on, can often be avoided.
We are unable to offer legal advice in these matters and any information on these pages does not constitute legal advice. For up to date information and guidance please visit GOV.UK.