Landlord's checklist for new private tenancies

When renting a property to a tenant, the Law requires a landlord to –

  • register with the Landlord Registration Scheme and provide a registration number to the tenant.
  • check if the rental property requires a Fitness Certificate. Most properties which were built, or converted for letting, before 1945 will need a Certificate of Fitness if they are to be used as rental properties. Certain properties are exempt, even if they were built before 1945. If the property is not exempt, a landlord must apply for a Fitness Certificate from the local council and have a valid Fitness Certificate to put the property on the rental market.
  • have a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before a property is advertised for private rental. The EPC must be entered onto the Northern Ireland EPC Register, provided by the Department for Finance & Personnel before a property can be marketed. It is a legal requirement that this certificate and the report is provided to anyone wishing to view the property so they have an understanding of how energy efficient the property is.
  • protect any deposit taken from the tenant in an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme within 28 days. The landlord must also provide the tenant with ‘Prescribed Information’ within 35 days. From 1 April 2023 a landlord cannot ask for a tenancy deposit of more than one month’s rent.
  • provide the tenant with a tenancy information notice within 28 days of granting the tenancy.  Any variations to this notice must be provided to the tenant within 28 days of the change being made.
  • provide the tenant with a written receipt for any cash payment made in relation to the tenancy. This must be provided free of charge and should be given at the time the payment is made or if that is not possible, as soon as reasonably possible after that time.
  • make sure all parts of the building that the tenant is entitled to use are kept in good order.
  • keep the structure and exterior of the property in good repair.
  • ensure that any gas heating or any gas appliances in the rented property are inspected yearly. A landlord must keep the gas safety record for at least two years and keep proof of all gas-related works carried out. The gas safety record for the property should be given to new tenants within 28 days of their tenancy starting.
  • install a carbon monoxide detector in a room where a new or replacement fuel burning appliance is located. If the appliance is located in a room that isn't used (like a hot press) install the detector just outside so that it can be heard by the tenants if it sounds.
  • install fire alarms to comply with building regulations if the property is newly built or converted for private rental. There is currently no legal requirement for landlords of existing private rented properties to install a fire alarm.  However, landlords should install these in their properties to protect any tenants living there. Failing to install a fire alarm could invalidate the insurance policy.  

It is also good practice to –

  • provide a tenancy agreement which the landlord and tenant should both sign to agree the terms and conditions of the tenancy. (A model tenancy agreement is available on the DfC website.) Include details of who is responsible for the payment of bills. Take meter readings before the tenancy starts.
  • draw up an inventory including everything that is in the property and what condition each item is in. Photos of rooms and furniture will be helpful when ending the tenancy.

Depending on the length of the tenancy, a landlord must give their tenant a minimum notice to quit period as set out below:

Length of tenancy Notice to quit
Tenancy not been in existence for more than 12 months No less than 4 weeks written notice
Tenancy has been in existence for more than 12 months but not more than 10 years No less than 8 weeks written notice
Tenancy has been in existence for more than 10 years No less than 12 weeks written notice

In order to evict a tenant, a landlord must follow the due process of law. This applies even where a tenant refuses to quit the property after a notice to quit has expired. The landlord must obtain a court order as to forcibly remove the tenant or his possessions could be seen as an illegal eviction.

Further information relating to changes in private tenancy law is available.

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