Crucial Tenant Documents: A Comprehensive Guide for Self-Managed Landlords

Thursday, May 25th, 2023

A self-managed landlord’s guide to essential tenant documents.

Alongside providing property management in Hitchin and Herts, M A S O N S offer a popular tenant-finding service for self-managed landlords. We’ve been chatting to these landlords, and it’s alerted us to a worrying trend: many aren’t aware that key tenant documents must be issued throughout the tenancy.

So, here’s our quick heads up on why these essential tenant documents – issued and updated at the appropriate time – can make regaining possession of your rental property in the future a simple, hassle-free process.

Why does it matter?

We support many landlords in managing their buy-to-let properties in Hitchin and Herts. Part of this involves thinking ahead to ensure their long-term interests are protected.

As part of this, it’s important to consider how you can regain possession of your property, should you want to. Perhaps you might want to sell up in a few years? Or plan to eventually repurpose the property for your own use? There’s also a risk that an unresolved tenancy dispute could result in needing to evict a tenant. Using a reliable tenant-finding service (like ours!) should minimise this risk, but the unexpected can happen, and it’s best to be prepared.

Being well prepared really isn’t difficult. For self-managed landlords, all it requires is some well-managed paperwork and processes to ensure the correct tenant documents are in place from day one.

Essential tenant documents.

To regain possession of a rental property, landlords have to notify tenants by serving a Section 21 notice (or in some cases a Section 8 notice). In England, Section 21 notices must give tenants at least two months’ notice to vacate the property.

When issuing a Section 21 notice, you must have supplied copies of key tenant documents to your tenant at the appropriate time. Without proof of this, your Section 21 notice can be invalid.

  • An Energy Performance Certificate (supplied before your tenants rent the property)
  • A current gas safety certificate (if gas is installed at your rental property)

This should be provided at the outset of the tenancy before your tenants move in. Then, as each annual gas safety check is completed, you must resupply an up-to-date tenant copy.

  • A copy of the government’s ‘How to Rent Guide’, which outlines the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants (again provided before tenants move in)

Asking tenants to sign a document to confirm receipt of these essential documents is a good idea (and filing the proof of receipt in a safe place helps too)!

Deposit protection scheme

If you take a rental deposit from tenants, this money should be placed in a deposit protection scheme. As part of the Section 21 process, you must declare which scheme you have used.

What happens if I don’t provide the tenant documents?

If you fail to provide the tenant documents at the outset of the tenancy and the Section 21 notice is deemed invalid, it will potentially delay the eviction.

At the very least, you’ll have to put the relevant paperwork in place and re-issue the Section 21 notice – prolonging the process. Depending on the situation, you may be forced to seek a possession order through the courts, which adds further significant delay, cost, and hassle.

Depending on your reason for regaining possession of the property, this will be at best inconvenient, and at worst it could potentially prolong an unwanted tenancy dispute for much longer than necessary.

Get ahead of the game.

Landlords using M A S O N S for property management in Hitchin and Herts have the added reassurance that all relevant tenant documents are issued at the start of a tenancy agreement, recorded, and then updated as required.

For self-managed landlords, setting aside time to put in place the correct paperwork and scheduling updates (for example the annual gas safety certificate) is time well spent. Then you can relax, knowing that come what may in the future, you’ve done all you can to ensure regaining possession of your property will be a smooth process.

M A S O N S is a leading letting agent in Hitchin, covering rental and buy-to-let properties in Hertfordshire. Founded on award-winning lettings experience, we specialise in property management, buy-to-let in Hitchin, and residential lettings – drop us a line at 01462 557 477 or [email protected]