The A to Z of being a landlord

Keeping up to speed with the ins and outs of your role as a landlord can be tricky – especially when you’re already juggling the commitments of everyday life.

We get it.

So learn how to tell your EPCs from your PATs with AXA’s A to Z guide to some common terms you’ll come across in your life as a landlord.


Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

The most popular type of tenancy agreement provides tenants with protections under The Housing Act 1988. It gives landlords the right to take their property back after the initial term of the agreement (usually six months) ends – as long as tenants are given two months’ notice prior to vacating.

Break clause

A break clause gives landlords the right to terminate a tenancy agreement in writing before the date the agreement is officially due to end.

Contents insurance

An optional extra of AXA’s Landlord Insurance, landlords who rent their furnished or part-furnished properties can use content insurance to protect their furniture, appliances and other items from damage or theft.



Tenants are legally required to pay a deposit at the beginning of their tenancy to give landlords protection in case they leave without paying rent or cause damage to the property and its contents.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

An EPC measures the energy efficiency of a property using a scale of A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). It’s a legal requirement and the landlord’s responsibility to have a valid EPC for their property. Failure to provide an EPC can result in fines of up to £5000.

Furniture and Furnishings Fire (Safety) Regulations 1988 and (Amendment) 1993

All domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery within a property need to be certified as compliant with these regulations.


Gas Safety Regulations 1998

These regulations require that, prior to tenants moving into a property, all gas appliances must be inspected by a gas engineer (certified by the Gas Safe Register) and annually thereafter.

Housing Act 2004

This extended the regulation of houses in multiple occupation by requiring some HMOs to be licensed by local authorities and provided the legal framework for tenancy deposit schemes. If landlords don’t comply with these rules, they can be fined between £200 and £5000.

Inventory list

It’s a good idea to create and distribute an inventory list detailing the condition and contents of your property at the beginning of a tenancy agreement to help avoid potential disputes over deposits if items need replaced when a tenant decides to leave.


Joint tenancy

This is where a tenancy agreement is granted to more than one person and specific conditions are met. Joint tenants are liable for all obligations owed under the tenancy, meaning landlords can approach one or all tenants if a task, such as rent, isn’t fulfilled.

Keeping records

It pays to maintain detailed records of the expenses you incur as a landlord letting out a property, such as legal fees, insurance costs and repairs and maintenance, as these can all be deducted from your tax bill.

Landlord insurance

This insurance covers landlords against financial losses connected to their rental properties that standard home insurance policies do not. With AXA’s landlord insurance, you can tailor your policy via a range of optional extras to get the protection you need.


Maintenance charge

Otherwise known as service charges, these are levied to tenants so that landlords can recover the charges incurred through providing services to a building, such as repairing or maintaining external communal areas.


These are used by both landlords and tenants to specify, document and action certain statements and proposals. From Section 21 and improvement notices to termination notices, you will have to manage and act on a variety of different notices throughout your life as a landlord.

Occupancy Rights

Contained within the tenancy agreement, these give tenants the right to occupancy of a property. Rights include: being able to live in a property free from defects; the right to receive prompt property repairs, and protection from unfair eviction and unreasonable rent.


Portable Appliance Test (PAT)

A test carried out by a registered engineer to ensure that all electrical installations and appliances within a property are safe in conjunction with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

Quiz would-be tenants

It’s wise to run a background check on your potential tenants – and in England it’s a requirement of the Right to Rent legislation. Whether you’re using a letting agent or landlording solo, get references from previous landlords and current employers, income and banking information, as well as carrying out a credit check.


The intricacies will be outlined in the tenancy agreement but fundamentally it is the landlord’s responsibility to repair the property’s structure and exterior, basins, baths and other sanitary fittings including pipes and drains, heating and hot water, gas appliances and electrical wiring as soon as possible after tenants report a problem.


Safety regulations

Tenants’ safety is one of your prime concerns. You must provide a copy of the gas safety check record and ensure all gas equipment is safely installed and checked annually by a registered engineer. The electrical system and all appliances you provide must be safe, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should be fitted, furniture and fittings must be fire safe and escape routes should always be clear.

Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (TDPS)

Legally, all deposits paid by a tenant for an assured shorthold tenancy must be registered with a government recognised deposit protection scheme. Tenants will get their deposit back (within ten days after reaching an agreement on the amount owed) if they meet the terms of the tenancy agreement, haven’t caused property damage and have paid all their rent and bills.

Under offer

The status of a property when a landlord has accepted an offer from a prospective tenant, prior to exchange and signing of contracts and tenancy agreements.


Void period

This is a period of time when your property is unoccupied with no rental income, which can be hard on landlords’ wallets. According to the National Landlords Association, you should take advantage of void periods to carry out repairs and updates to entice new tenants.

Welcome pack

As well as providing the legally required information, contact details and details on how to work the central heating and other appliances, try adding a few personal touches such as ‘welcome’ bottle of wine and recommendations of places to visit in the area.


Whether it’s stationery, computers costs or postage, as a self-managed landlord you’ll incur office expenses. Try to keep a photocopy of any receipts of administration and office costs linked to your role as a landlord, as the associated costs can be claimed as tax deductible letting expenses.


Yearly maintenance

Tenants expect high standards of accommodation. Help avoid the need for and costs of a far bigger overhaul – and associated unwelcome void periods – by carrying out redecorating duties and maintenance of your property and its utilities as often as you can. It’s a good idea to always keep a backup plan for when the unexpected happens.


Remaining up to date with changes to the rules and regulations governing landlords is a task that will constantly be at the top of your to-do list. Be clued up on new legislation by keeping an eye on the news and our complete guide to being a landlord, so you can continue to landlord like a pro.