Renting out property can be financially rewarding, although there are essential costs and legal obligations you’ll need to take into account. Read our complete guide to landlord registration, including how landlord insurance can help you meet some of the financial costs involved.
First, what is landlord registration?
Landlord registration is designed to protect tenants from bad (or ‘rogue’) landlords. There no registration scheme, as such, only the three different types of licensing that operate across the UK. These all maintain up-to-date information about private landlords and their properties, used to make sure that tenants won’t have to put up with poor quality or unsafe housing.
Second, do I need to register by law?
Currently, if you rent out property in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and in some parts of England you will need to register as a landlord. If you’re a landlord in England you’ll need to speak to your local council to find out if registration is needed in your area.
Do it today: To find your local council in England so you can check if registration is needed, click here.
Rose Jinks, on behalf of online news platform Landlord News, explains the importance of making sure you stick to the law:
“Wherever your rental properties are located, it’s essential that you understand the rules and regulations governing the private rental sector in that part of the country. This will not only protect you from facing hefty fines or further sanctions, but will also ensure that your properties are safe and comfortable for your tenants.
“Having adequate landlord insurance in place also helps to keep your properties in a habitable condition, which will make your rental homes more secure and enjoyable for those living in them. We advise looking for insurance that protects your properties from industry-specific perils, to ensure that you’re fully covered.”
Third, how do I know if landlord registration applies to me?
In Wales, you need to register with RentSmart Wales if you have a rental property that is rented on an assured, assured shorthold, or regulated tenancy. You’ll also have to apply for a licence if you undertake letting and management tasks for your rental property. If you are not involved in setting up tenancies or managing your property you don’t need a licence, but you must use a licensed agent and declare their name on your landlord registration.
Do I need a licence?
You will need to register as a landlord and apply for a licence if any of the following apply to you:
Landlord Letting Activities
- Arranging or conducting viewings with prospective tenants
- Gathering evidence on the suitability of prospective tenants, for example by confirming character references, undertaking credit checks or interviewing a prospective tenant
- Preparing or arranging the preparation of a tenancy agreement
- Preparing or arranging the preparation of an inventory or schedule of condition for the dwelling
Landlord Property Management Activities:
- Collecting rent
- Being the principal point of contact for the tenant in relation to matters arising under the tenancy
- Making arrangements with a person to carry out repairs or maintenance
- Making arrangements with a tenant or occupier of the dwelling to secure access to the dwelling for any purpose
- Checking the contents or condition of the dwelling, or arranging for them to be checked as part of a current tenancy or for one which has ended
- Serving notice to terminate a tenancy
All private landlords letting properties in Scotland must register. It’s worth bearing in mind that even if you already hold a licence for a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) then you and your properties will still need to be on the register. Some local authorities may do this automatically but you should always check first.
If you are an agent managing private rented property you are not obliged by law to register, however, you are encouraged to do so. In any case, you will have to be listed on the application of any landlord whose properties you manage. If you register independently it can give your clients extra reassurance that you are fit and proper.
In Northern Ireland:
All landlords who let properties under a private tenancy agreement in Northern Ireland must register. However, if you rent a room to a lodger you won’t need to register as long as they are renting the room as a licensee rather than a tenant.
You may be required by law to register in certain areas. First, check with your local council to see if it applies to you. Even if you’re not required by law to register as a landlord you may wish to sign up for a voluntary registration, such as those offered through the National Landlords Association or Residential Landlords Association.
Next, what happens if I don’t register?
Most importantly, if you are in a location that requires landlord registration, you won’t be able to rent your property until you are registered. In addition, if you try to rent out without registering you could be fined. For example, in Scotland, the maximum fine for renting a property without registering as a landlord is £50,000. Also, you could be banned from renting any property for up to five years.
How do I register in Scotland?
Next, to apply online you’ll need the following information or details close to hand:
- Any criminal convictions and court or tribunal judgements
- Details for all joint owners, including their contact details and landlord registration numbers
- Your addresses for the past five years
- Details of agents or letting agents managing your property on your behalf
- Addresses of all your rental properties
- Any criminal convictions and court judgements you have
- Repairing standards enforcements orders (RSEOs), issued to you or your tenants
- Any licences or registrations you hold, or have had refused or revoked, relating to letting or managing property
- Any accreditations you hold or have had refused or revoked, relating to letting or managing property
- Finally, a credit or debit card to pay for any fees
How do I register in Wales?
You can also register using a paper form. Call Rent Smart Wales on 03000 133344 if you need a copy to be sent to you. If you a registering with a paper form, it will cost £80.50.
In addition, you’ll need to undertake special training to be able to apply for your landlord’s licence, which you can do online or in a classroom, Find more information or book courses here: https://www.rentsmart.gov.wales/en/courses/
How do I register in Northern Ireland?
Do it today: To register as a landlord in Northern Ireland you can either:
- Telephone: 0300 200 7821
- Telephone: +44 28 9049 5881 (if calling from outside the UK)
- Send an email to email@example.com
- Register online at https://landlordregistration.nidirect.gov.uk
- Download and fill in this Registration Form or collect a copy from your local council
Online registration currently costs £70. If you register using a paper copy the fee is currently £80.
The Learning to Let training programme can help you to develop your knowledge about your legal obligations and those of your tenants. If you need any further help or information you can also call the free helpline on 028 9024 5640 (option 5) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I register in England (if required)?
Do it today: Firstly, check if you need to register by law by contacting your local council.
What about voluntary registration?
If you rent out property in a location that does not require registration by law, you can still opt for voluntary registration through the National Landlords Association (NLA). You will have to pay a fee, but in return, you will get access to lots of useful information and advice. Voluntary registration will also give your tenants extra peace of mind and could make your property more appealing.
How do I register through the NLA?
Do it today: If you join the National Landlords Association (NLA) you can apply for NLA Accreditation. This shows your tenants that you are a professional landlord.
Membership currently costs £89 if you sign up online. You can fill in the form here.
How do I achieve NLA accredited status?
Do it today: There are three ways that you can become accredited with the NLA:
1) Complete a one-day attendance-based NLA foundation course. Our courses are facilitated across the UK. Find your nearest course here
2) Or, complete the “CORE” subjects in the NLA Online Library here
3) Alternatively, passport your accreditation from another landlord development based scheme. You will need to download and sign the scheme rules along with providing proof that you are a member of a development based scheme that follows the same syllabus as the NLA. This can be in the form of your accredited certificate.
Download the scheme rules document, sign it and either email a scanned copy to email@example.com or post it to NLA Accreditation, 2nd Floor, Skyline House, 200 Union Street, London SE1 0LX
Do I have to renew my landlord registration?
Yes. If you are required to register by law, you will usually need to renew your landlord registration.
Do it today: Take steps to renew your landlord registration:
- Northern Ireland: Renew here. Certificates currently cost £70 and must be renewed every three years
- Wales: Renew here. Online certificates currently cost £33.50 and must be renewed every five years
- Scotland: Renew here. You’ll need to renew your registration every three years. Be aware that if you don’t, you’ll have to pay an expired registration fee, which is currently £110
- England: Check with your local council to ensure you comply with any renewal requirements
- National Landlords Association (NLA). You’ll need to pay an annual membership fee, which can be paid over three or five years in advance at a reduced rate. Renew your membership here or call 020 7840 8937 [Mon-Fri 9am-5pm]
What other essential paperwork do I need to complete as a landlord?
In England and Wales you’ll need to:
- Provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
- Protect your tenant’s deposit in a government-approved scheme
- Also, check your tenant has the right to rent your property if it’s in England
- Then, give your tenant a copy of the How to rent checklist when they start renting from you
- Finally, don’t forget to take out insurance for financial peace of mind
Why do I need landlord insurance
The key reason for landlord insurance is to protect your financial investment. Firstly, it will cover your premises in the event of a fire or other incident in which the house is damaged or even destroyed. In addition, the right insurance means you can afford to make the essential repairs and maintain safety standards as required by landlord registration.
Remember, standard home insurance is not valid if you rent the property out.
What else can landlord insurance cover?
In England and Wales, the government requires that all landlords:
- Keep the property safe and free from health-related hazards
- Ensure that gas and electrical equipment are safe and properly maintained
- Fit smoke / carbon monoxide alarms which are regularly tested
- Follow appropriate fire safety regulations
Landlord insurance can help you to meet these obligations by paying out to put right any damage. Insurance can also cover your legal costs if a tenant sues you for injury or damage to their belongings.
Protecting your property
Unfortunately, thousands of pounds worth of damage can be caused to your property by your tenants on purpose or by accident. Robust landlord insurance will cover you for any damage sustained to your property, giving you added peace of mind.
What does landlord insurance include?
Your landlord insurance can be tailored to cover you for the things that you feel are most important, including:
- Building insurance. This is the most basic level of landlord insurance cover, and will pay out in the event of damage to the building itself
- Landlord’s content insurance. If you are offering a fully furnished house or flat for rent then you need to protect your furniture and other items from damage
- Legal protection. This will protect you in the event that legal proceedings are brought against you by a tenant, for example, they make claims for injury or damage. It covers your legal fees to defend your case and any compensation awarded to the other party
- Loss of rent insurance. If your property is damaged or becomes unhabitable then you won’t be able to rent it, and that can affect your cash-flow. Loss of rent insurance can cover you for these periods so that you’re not out of pocket