Staying on the right side of the law is vital when you’re a landlord and if property investment is new to you, doing so can seem like a daunting prospect.
One of the first questions you might ask is ‘Do I need to register as a landlord’?
The answer depends on where you are in the country, but this guide will take you through everything you need to know about landlord registration in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Landlord registration: Everything you need to know
Unfortunately, despite tightening of regulations in the Private Rented Sector (PRS), there are still rogue landlords letting sub-standard properties and making life generally unpleasant for tenants.
Landlord registration was brought in to combat those who give landlords a bad name by collating information about landlords at the properties they let.
That provides tenants with much needed peace of mind that the property they are renting and the person they are renting from are both safe and compliant.
Do I need to register as a landlord?
By law, you need to register as a landlord if you’re renting out a property in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Depending on your location in England, you may need to register there, too. Some parts of England require landlords to register, so check with your local council to find out if it’s required in your area.
Landlord registration: Scotland
If you are planning to rent out a property anywhere in Scotland, you need to be registered with your local authority.
Many local authorities in Scotland do this automatically, but as a landlord, it is your responsibility to check if this is the case – never assume.
Lettings agents, too, are encouraged to register if they manage properties for landlords, although it’s not a legal requirement that they do.
How to register as a landlord in Scotland
Scottish landlords should use the online registration process, which takes around 20 minutes to complete.
If you have any queries, contact your local authority.
Landlord registration: Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, all landlords renting out properties with a private tenancy agreement must register.
Homeowners renting a room to a lodger, though, don’t need to register.
How to register as a landlord in Northern Ireland
Registering as a landlord in Northern Ireland costs £70 or £80 if done using the paper form. Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) landlords already registered under Northern Ireland’s HMO scheme are not required to register again for standard, single tenancy buy-to-let properties.
Landlord registration: England
While the requirement to register as a landlord in England depends on which area of the country you’re in, it’s a good idea to register voluntarily anyway.
Being open and transparent with your potential tenants will always start you off on a sound footing, after all.
How to register as a landlord in England
Voluntary schemes are offered through both the National Landlords Assocation (NLA) and Residential Landlords Assocation (RLA), but you should always check in the first instance whether you’re legally required to register through your local authority.
As well as providing peace of mind to your tenant and making your rental property more appealing, registering with either the NLA or RLA can also provide you with lots of information and support as a landlord.
Cost to register with the NLA
Registering as a landlord with the NLA costs £89 if you sign up online.
Cost to register with the RLA
Registering as a landlord with the RLA costs £79.95 and can be done online.
Landlord registration: Wales
Landlord registration in Wales is slightly different to the rest of the UK, but even more stringent.
If you’re a landlord in Wales letting a property on an assured, assured shorthold or regulated tenancy agreement, you must register with RentSmart.
You’ll also need a licence if you self-manage your rental property. If you don’t, you must use a managing agent with a licence and declare them on your own registration.
Landlords in Wales must also complete a training course to obtain their licence, which can be done online or in person.
How to register as a landlord in Wales
Failure to register as a landlord
Put simply, you can’t rent out a property in an area requiring you to register as a landlord if you haven’t done so.
If you do try to rent your property out without registering, you could face a ban and / or a hefty fine.
- In Scotland, the maximum fine for letting a property without registering as a landlord is £50,000, plus a ban of up to five years
- In Wales, un-licensed landlords can be prosecuted or face penalties of between £150 and £250 as well as rent stopping orders or rent repayment orders
- In Northern Ireland, un-registered landlords can face fixed penalty fines of up to £500 or prosecution with fines of up to £2,500.
How often do I have to renew my registration?
- In Northern Ireland, landlords must re-register every three years at a cost of £70.
- In Wales, landlords must renew their licence every five years and this costs £33.50.
- In Scotland, renewals must be completed every three years with fees of £110 for those who fail to renew in time.
Landlords tenancy checklist – key points
- Provide your tenant with a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – minimum rating E.
- Protect your tenant’s deposit in one of three government-backed schemes
- Undertake Right to Rent checks on your tenant
- Supply your tenant with a valid Gas Safety Certificate and a copy of the How to Rent guide
- Take out adequate buildings and landlord insurance