Landlords: How to successfully navigate tenancy legislation

If you’ve never been a landlord before, trying to get your head around the different parts of legislation relating to private tenancies can be dizzying. When you break it down, it’s not as onerous as it first appears but the key to simplifying what needs done and staying on top of things, is being organised. Here’s a short list of what you need to know if you’re a private landlord in Edinburgh:

  1. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This needs done every 10 years and costs about £80. It is required when advertising the property or if the sitting tenant requests a copy.
  2. Landlord Registration. This is an online form filling exercise. It costs £55 (or £11 for additional properties) and needs completed/renewed every 3 years. The landlord’s registration number should appear along with the property details when it is advertised.
  3. Gas Safety Certificate. This needs to be completed annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer. The cost will be about £60 (assuming just one appliance i.e. a boiler) but it’s worth paying a bit extra and having the appliance(s) serviced at the same time to help ensure smooth running for the next 12 months.
  4. Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). This is a survey of the wiring in the property to make sure it is safe for tenants to use. An EICR needs to be completed every 5 years and will cost between £120 and £180 depending on the size and layout of the property.
  5. Portable Appliance Testing (PAT). This is an electrical test of any appliances supplied by the landlord. It must be done with an EICR and it is best practise to do annually. The cost is £40-£50 depending on the number of appliances.
  6. Smoke detectors (and heat alarms for in kitchens). These need to be hard-wired and interlinked so that if one alarm goes off, they all go off. An adequate installation will usually cost about £100 per alarm and the exact number will depend on the size and layout of the property. There must also be a carbon monoxide detector in the same room as the gas appliances. This can be battery powered and does not need to be linked to the other alarms. The Gas Safe engineer should pick this up during the gas safety inspection (see number 3, above).
  7. Legionella Risk Assessment. Part of the landlord’s responsibilities is managing the risk of legionella bacteria in the property, usually caused by stagnant water. A risk assessment carried out by a qualified professional will help landlord’s meet this requirement.
  8. Deposit lodging. Most tenancies will involve the tenant paying a security deposit to the landlord at the beginning of the tenancy to provide the landlord with some protection against unpaid rent or damage to the property. The landlord has 30 working days (6 weeks) to lodge the deposit with one of three government approved tenancy deposit schemes and provide the tenant with the required documentation otherwise they leave themselves open to a claim from the tenant for breach of the deposit rules.
  9. Lease Agreement (Private Rented Tenancy or PRT). In December last year, tenancy agreements in Scotland changed and any tenancy that has started or changed since the date of introduction is subject to the legislation relating to the new PRT. The Scottish Government has a free template PRT that landlords can download and use.

These are the main legal tasks that landlords may not be aware of. The carrying out and updating of these items should form part of the management agreement that a landlord has with their letting agent. There is a longer list for HMO properties (where the property has 3 or more bedrooms and is rented to more than two individuals who are not related) and there are some other niche cases that landlords would need to consider, but the list above provides a good overview for an average rental property in Edinburgh.