You may need to get a certificate to show that your property is fit for habitation. Certain properties don't need to get the certificate, but it is an offence to fail to apply for one if your property isn't exempt.
Your tenants are expected to ensure your property is kept in a good state of decoration. This means that the tenant is expected to make sure the property is clean and ventilated. You can take legal action against your tenants if you believe you should be compensated for any damage caused to the property by your tenants.
Generally, you will be liable for any repairs to the structure of the property and furnishings which were supplied with the letting and the tenants will be liable for repairs to their own items or for repairing any damage which is their fault. You should specify repairing obligations in your tenancy agreement.
There are a list of criteria that a tenancy must satisfy in order to be protected. The first of these is that the tenancy must have existed before 1 April 2007. No new protected tenancies can be created after this date, but the Rent Officer may still declare that tenancies which were in place before April 2007 are protected by law.
If your property has a gas heating system or any gas appliances you must ensure that these are checked annually by an engineer who is listed on the Gas Safe Register. Annual checks are recorded on a log called a Gas Safety Record. You must keep these records up to date and keep them for at least 2 years.
Your tenancy agreement can give you additional rights, beyond those afforded to you in legislation. When drawing up a tenancy agreement, remember that any terms which are seen to be unfair are unenforceable.
If the tenant has caused damage to the property, you are entitled to financial compensation for any repairs you carry out. This compensation can only be awarded by the courts so it's essential that you keep records of any evidence which will support your claim that the damage is the fault of the tenants.