So, you've got tenants lined up for your property. Congratulations! But before welcoming your first tenants through the door, it's vital to equip yourself with the necessary knowledge to navigate the legal landscape, particularly the realm of Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs). These are the most common types of tenancy agreements in England and Wales, and understanding them is key to ensuring a smooth and successful experience for both you and your tenants. Not least of all to protect yourself, if you ever need to regain possession of your property!

Laying the Foundation: Essential Paperwork

Before your tenants settle in, you're legally responsible for providing them with several key documents:

  • A Written Tenancy Agreement: This agreement serves as the bedrock of your relationship with your tenants, outlining the rights and responsibilities of both parties. Think of it as a roadmap, detailing the rent amount and due dates, tenancy term, deposit information, and termination procedures. Remember, this agreement must follow the guidelines set out in the Housing Act 1988 – a crucial piece of the puzzle. Without this, it is almost impossible to outline the exact terms of the tenancy you are entering into.
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): This document informs your tenants about the property's energy efficiency, empowering them to make informed choices about energy consumption and cost management. Having an up-to-date EPC, and providing it to your tenants is now a legal requirement for all new and existing tenancies. It must be at least an E rating (or be exempt) in order to be rented under current regulations. Although, there are plans afoot to raise this to a C in the near future, so be sure you keep up to date with any potential changes.
  • "How to Rent" Guide: This government-provided guide is like a handbook for your tenants, equipping them with essential information about their rights and responsibilities under an AST.
  • Deposit Protection Certificate (DPC): If you take a deposit from your tenants (and let's be honest, who wouldn't?), this will need to be no more than 5 weeks' rent, and must be protected in an approved government scheme. You must provide your tenants with proof of this registration by way of a certificate.
  • Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR): You will need to obtain an EICR before your property can be rented. This report, conducted by a qualified electrician, verifies the safety of the property's electrical wiring, adding another layer of reassurance for everyone involved.
  • Gas Safety Certificate (GSC): If your property boasts the convenience of gas appliances, you must provide a valid GSC issued by a Gas Safe registered engineer. This ensures the safety of the installations, giving you and your tenants peace of mind.

Meeting Deadlines: Staying on Top of Time

In order to be compliant, all of this paperwork must be provided to your tenants at the outset of the tenancy. Some items also have specific specific timeframes in order to be compliant:

  • Tenancy Agreement: This foundational document should be presented to your tenants before they move in. It should then be signed by all parties, and you and the tenants should retain a signed copy.
  • "How to Rent" Guide: This document must be given to your tenants no later than the beginning of their tenancy.
  • EPC: This must be included in your advertising materials for the property, and provided to your tenants at the start of their tenancy. A copy of each new certificate must be provided to the tenants when it is renewed. An EPC lasts for 10 years.
  • Deposit Protection: By law, you must safeguard your tenants' deposit within 30 days of receiving it. Government-approved tenancy deposit schemes are your go-to solution for ensuring this protection. A copy of the certificate must be provided to the tenants at the start of their tenancy.
  • EICR: This must be provided to your tenants before they move in. A copy of the new certificate should be provided each time it is renewed. An EICR lasts for 5 years.
  • GSC: If your property has gas appliances, you must provide a copy of the valid GSC to your tenants before they move in and subsequently every year, when it is renewed.


Don't forget, when you are referencing potential tenants, it is now your obligation to conduct Right to Rent Checks on all adult occupants before they move in.

Remember, being a responsible landlord involves a commitment to providing a safe and well-maintained environment for your tenants, while also adhering to legal requirements. By staying informed and following these essential guidelines, you can navigate the tenancy journey with confidence and create a positive experience for everyone involved.


Photo by Romain Dancre on Unsplash