Show and tell: What documents should tenants and landlords provide
Whilst paperwork might seem laborious, a thorough papertrail of your rental journey is the most effective way to protect you and your property. This article will provide a comprehensive checklist of the documents landlords and tenants must show and tell for a safe, secure and untroubled tenancy.
As a landlord, it is important that you have investigated the person who intends to live in your property- whether this be your family home or a buy to let, you want to ensure you are leaving its keys in good hands. As such, you might- and must in some cases- ask your tenant for certain documents.
1. Referencing and credit checks
When letting someone into your property, it is commonplace for a landlord to do reference checks on prospective tenants to check that they are who they say they are and that they have the financial means to rent the property from you. You might also want to consider getting a character or employment reference to ensure there is no obvious reason why a particular person should not rent from you.
2. Guarantor Agreement
If you discover that the prospective tenant’s credit score, or income, is less than ideal, you can request that the tenant finds a guarantor who will pledge themselves to pay the rent if the tenant fails to do so. In this circumstance, it is advisable you draw up a guarantor agreement to ensure that, if the tenant does fail to pay, you have an enforceable agreement reflecting the tenant’s obligations.
3. Right to Rent
Whilst the documentation outlined above is entirely optional, existing only to give the landlord confidence in the prospective tenant, it is a legal requirement that a landlord completes a Right to Rent check on the tenant.
To do so, a landlord must ask all adults intending to use the property for original documents to prove that they have the right to live in the UK, such as a passport, registration certificate or immigration status documents. The landlord must ensure that the documents are genuine, in date and relate to the prospective tenant. Landlords must also then make a copy of the document and keep hold of that document for the duration of the tenancy and one year after the tenancy has ended.
Under Coronavirus legislation, temporary changes were made to right to rent checks meaning that checks could be carried out over video calls and that tenants could send documents electronically, as opposed to sending original documents. The Home Office has announced that these temporary changes will remain in place until 5th April 2022.
As shown, a landlord can (and must) request certain documents from prospective tenants. However, they must also present the tenant with important documentation relating to the property and the tenancy to ensure that they have abided by health and safety regulations and to protect themselves where difficulties may arise with the tenant.
4. Tenancy Agreement
Whilst not a legal requirement, presenting the tenant with a written tenancy agreement is the surest way to afford protection to the landlord, the tenant and the property. The most common tenancy agreement, the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, should outline the core features of the agreement:
● Start date and end date
● Notice periods
● Rent and deposit amount and due dates
● The rights and obligations of the parties, such as for repairs
● Instances where the tenant is obliged to ask for the landlord’s consent to do or allow certain things to take place in the property
5. Deposit Protection
It is a legal requirement that a tenant’s deposit is placed under an authorised deposit protection scheme within 30 days of money receipt and tenants must be given documentation outlining the details of the scheme and where their deposit is stored.
Deposit protection schemes provide both landlord and tenant with a free dispute resolution service if the parties cannot agree on the return and are therefore crucial to ensure both parties are protected.
6. Insurance Policies
Whilst not a legal requirement, it is wise to give a tenant details of any insurance policies you have on the rental property to ensure that the insurance policy takes effect as you plan. If a tenant is unaware of some of the conditions of your insurance policy, and acts in a way so as to invalidate it, you may not be able to get compensation for damages or you may be obligated to pay premiums on your policy. A tenant is not bound by the terms of a document that they have not seen so cannot be liable. Therefore, it is important to present the details of your policy to your tenant to ensure your insurance can work the way it is supposed to.
7. How to Rent
A landlord must provide a tenant with a copy of the government-issued How to Rent booklet at the beginning of a tenancy which outlines all the key information a tenant, who may be less practised in renting, needs to be aware of.
8. Contact Details
Whilst this should be included in the tenancy agreement, it is crucial that if there is no such written agreement that a landlord provides their contact details to their tenants, including: their name, address and telephone number. This is to be used in emergency situations and ensures not only that your tenant is safe but that you can be contacted so that you can take the necessary steps to ensure that your property is protected.
If your property is a HMO, you should also give your contact details to neighbouring properties of the property that you are renting, should they have any grievances or want to make you aware of any antisocial behaviour relating to the tenants.
9. Safety Certificates
By law there are a series of certificates a landlord is required to produce to the tenant to ensure the property is fit for habitation and that it meets health and safety standards set by the government.
Tenants must be provided with a Gas Safety Certificate if there are gas appliances in the property. These appliances must be checked by a registered engineer and annually. Tenants should be provided with copies of gas safety certificates before they move into the property or 28 days after subsequent checks.
As of 1 April 2021, tenants must also be provided with a copy of an EICR certificate that is to be renewed every 5 years. On moving in, a tenant must also be provided with an EPC. Both of these documents are a legal requirement for the health and protection of the tenant, their neighbours and the property.
10. Inventories and Appliance Guides
Whilst not a legal requirement, it is very important to provide your tenant with an inventory of the property before they move in. It will provide an important paper trail, attached with photos, of the condition of the premises when the tenancy started to ensure that a landlord can claim damages for anything that is broken. Getting your tenant to sign the inventory you have provided, having checked the premises themselves, is a sure way to evidence that the property was in fact in that condition when they moved in.
It is also recommended that you provide your tenants with copies of the written instructions for appliances and installations. This will ensure that your tenant has an easier time moving into their new home but also gives you confidence that they will use your appliances correctly and safely
As shown, it is crucial that both a landlord and tenant present and request certain documentation from one another to ensure the safety of the property and the tenant and to ensure that both parties are adequately protected in the event of dispute. Whilst documentation might seem like a tedious task, it will afford you as a landlord the best protection.
Platforms such as Checkboard will slice the time of completing necessary reference checks. Legislate provides users with lawyer-approved, up to date contracts and tenancy related documents that can be created and received in minutes. To start Legislating your documents today, sign up or book a call with the team.