A guide to landlord responsibilities

The arrangement between a landlord and the tenant is legally binding, with each given their own rights and responsibilities to act in the interests of the other.

Just as you hope that your tenant will be responsible, pay their rent on time and look after your property, as a landlord, you must agree to uphold your own set of commitments.

Most of your landlord responsibilities are likely to be listed in the tenancy agreement you draw up, which will outline the terms you both agree to, but there are those that need to be included by law. Use our checklist of landlord obligations below to be sure you don’t get caught out:

 

Provide the right paperwork

As a landlord, there is a list of paperwork you need to show that your property is up to a specific standard – key among these are your gas safety certificate, an electrical safety certificate, an energy performance certificate, a risk assessment for Legionnaire’s disease and a fire risk assessment. These are needed to prove that the property is in good working order, safe and checked regularly.

In the case of the gas, electrics and energy performance, you can find a certified professional to come out to your property and perform the necessary checks. These will need to be tested again at specific intervals. In the case of Legionnaire’s disease or a fire risk assessment, you can do these yourself, with plenty of material and forms available to download online. In both cases, you just need to show you have thought about the potential hazards and taken appropriate action.

Landlords must also provide their tenants with the latest copy of the government’s How to Rent: The Checklist for Renting in England guide. It’s also a legal requirement that your tenant has your full name and address, or at least your letting agent’s details.

Failure to provide everything needed can result in fines.

Also, check that you have the legal paperwork relevant to your property. An HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation), where flats share the same kitchen and bathroom facilities, will require additional legislation, with the landlord needing a licence.

 

Protect the tenant’s deposit

It’s now a legal requirement to place the tenant’s deposit into a UK government-approved deposit protection scheme. Any landlord failing to do this risks fines, and it could also create problems when trying to end the tenancy.

There are three different deposit schemes – the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) and mydeposits. The one chosen will depend on various circumstances, but the idea with each is to prevent landlords unfairly withholding deposits at the end of a tenancy in the event of a dispute.

 

Carry out repairs

Among the landlord’s responsibilities is the maintenance of the property, namely its structure and exterior. Any issues with the roof, walls, chimney or guttering need to be dealt with if reported, as do those related to the supply of water, gas or electricity – pipes, taps, fixtures and fittings, and any bathroom or kitchen appliances included in the tenancy.

Sometimes it might be the tenant that has caused the damage. Take photos of the property before the tenancy begins, so you can prove whom the responsibility lies with in the event of a dispute. It may be that you want to deduct the costs of the repair from the tenant’s deposit, or claim the amount through your landlord’s insurance, if you have it. 

 

Meet safety standards

The health and safety of the tenant is the landlord’s responsibility. Certain standards here will be met by default – carrying out the gas and safety checks, for example, and keeping up with repairs.

Another legal requirement is that the property is fitted with the appropriate number of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors – usually this is one smoke alarm per floor, with a carbon monoxide detector included in a room with a fossil fuel burner. Rules may be different depending on the property – an HMO will also need fire doors, extinguishers, alarms and a fire safety officer.

Any furniture or appliances provided as part of the tenancy must all meet safety requirements. Check the documentation of electrical goods and the manufacturer’s label on sofas for details.

 

Don’t disturb or harass the tenant

This basically means giving the tenant 24 hours’ notice before you decide to visit the property – either for an inspection or to carry out repairs.

You can’t just harass the tenant either if they fall behind in rent or you want them out. You’ll need a court order to remove them legally, so be sure to follow the correct procedures.

 

Follow the rules on rent

The tenancy agreement will detail how much rent is to be paid and when. As a landlord, you can’t refuse to accept the rent.

Also you can’t just increase the amount whenever you like, you’ll need to provide notice.

It might be that you have to wait for a fixed term to end. The amount has to be justifiable and comparable to similar properties in the area.

Find out more about our landlord insurance.
 

BUILD: MASTER