ASK MEL – What certificates do I need, by law, for my Nuneaton Buy-to-let at the start of a tenancy?

Dear Mel,
I’ve been reading up on the kind of documentation / certification that is required at the start of a tenancy but I’m a bit confused about what is a legal requirement and what is recommended. I’ve just purchased my first buy-to-let in Nuneaton and I want to make sure everything is done properly.
-Tim

Mel’s Reply:

Hi Tim,
Thanks for getting in touch and congratulations on your first Nuneaton buy-to-let. This is an incredibly exciting time but also a worrying one, as you said, you want to make sure you’re doing things right. It’s great to see you taking pride in your investment and taking the time to check what is legally required from you because it can be VERY costly if you are caught out or miss something.

As you said, there are legal requirements and then there are recommendations (I’d personally do what is recommended as best practice).

Gas Safety Certificate
This is a certificate which you are required, by law, to have done annually. It must be carried out by a registered Gas Safe Engineer. You need to give tenants a copy of this at the outset of each new tenancy. When the certificate is renewed, you should also provide the tenants with a copy. The cost varies from £45 – £85 Depending on who you use. Just make sure they are on the Gas Safety Register.

Electrical Certificate
Surprisingly, unlike gas regulations, there is no law that says you must have a landlord electrical safety certificate.
You must make sure that any appliance you provide is safe (complete a PAT test) and has at least the CE marking (which is the manufacturer’s claim that it meets all the requirements of European law).
But, I would certainly recommend having an Electrical Certificate done. Should any electrical fittings or appliances within your rental property cause harm to a tenant you could be held liable.
It is recommended that they are done every 5 years or at the start of each new tenancy. The cost of this is usually around £120-£150.

Legionella Risk Assessment
As a landlord, it’s your job to keep a house safe and free from health hazards. This also includes Legionella which is a type of harmful bacteria found in water and can cause a serious type of pneumonia (lung infection).
You have two options: 1) Instruct a company to do the assessment for you (usually around £50) or 2) Carry out the assessment yourself if you are able to complete it competently.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
This certificate shows the energy efficiency of your property. It grades the property from A-G and also highlights ways in which you can make improvements. You will have had one when you purchased your property. Check the date it was done as they need to be renewed every 10 years.
As of April 2018 an rental property will need to have a minimum E Rating so, if your property is one of the older or poorly insulated properties, you may struggle (unless certain improvements are made- if they can be).
A copy of this needs to be given to the tenant at the start of the tenancy.

Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Now, although this isn’t a certificate, I thought you should know that it is a legal requirement to have one smoke detector on each storey of your rental property and a Carbon Monoxide detector must be fitted in an room where solid fuel is used (e.g. log burner). As best practice, I put a Co2 detector in any room that has gas (where boiler is, if there is a gas hob, if there is a gas fire), but that is up to you.

So there you have it, a list of certificates that are either required by law or recommended. There are other things to consider at the start of the tenancy like the inventory, protecting the deposit, providing the correct documentation at the start of the tenancy. If you have any questions about any of these, or if you’re considering using an Agent to ensure it’s all set up and running smoothly with the right tenants, feel free please feel free to get in touch.

Email me on m.maycock@qthomes.co.uk or give me a call on 02477 674 545. You’re always welcome to pop in for a chat. The kettle is always on and we may even get the biscuits out. We’re just by the trainstation.