As a landlord, your primary responsibility is to provide safe and adequate housing for your tenants. Additionally, there are many other responsibilities which come along with the role, including preparing the property before a tenant moves in, repairing faults during their tenancy and afterwards returning their deposit.
Here is our simple guide to fulfilling the basic landlord’s responsibilities for most tenancies. There are some types of tenancies which differ, but these are the five basic requirements stipulated by the government that you need to fulfil to comply with Health and Safety rules in the UK legally as a landlord:
- Following fire regulations
- Keeping your rented property safe and free from health hazards
- Providing an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
- Ensuring that you provide gas and electrical equipment that is safely installed and maintained
- Protecting your tenant’s deposit in a government-backed approved scheme
Creating a contract
It’s important to create a contract which clearly outlines what your landlord obligations to the tenant are and theirs to you as a landlord. This includes clarifying which maintenance tasks are your responsibility and which are the tenant’s. Once you’ve made it clear who is responsible for specific tasks this leaves less room for disagreements later on down the line. It’s important to go through the contract with the tenant so that both parties are explicitly clear of their contractual obligations before the tenancy begins.
Essential maintenance repairs
By law as a landlord you are responsible for these essential maintenance repairs which are outlined in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Ultimately, your primary obligation is to make sure that the house is fit for human habitation during the tenancy. This includes things like making sure there is running water, the property is free from damp and that there is sufficient ventilation. Section 11of the Act determines what exactly you as the landlord are legally tasked with:
- Repairs to the basic structure and the exterior of your property. This includes all the windows, doors and walls. Additionally, exterior features like guttering and drainage, outside piping and roofing
- Maintaining and repairing the gas, electricity and water supplies
- Keeping the electrical wiring and lighting in a fit state of repair
- Ensuring that the sanitary fittings are in safe working order
- Repairing and maintaining gas appliances in the property
A landlord is expected to rectify any problems or faults to the above before a tenant moves in and, whilst in the tenancy period, the tenant has a legal obligation to inform the landlord of any problems. Smaller tasks like changing lightbulbs and maintenance of the garden are generally the tenant’s responsibility.
If once notified of the issues you fail to carry out, or fail to get a specialist to carry out the essential repair work within a reasonable period of time, you could be liable for negligence, so it’s in your best interests to make all repairs as soon as possible. A tenant has a right to claim
Securing the deposit
Making sure that your tenant’s deposit is secured through a government backed scheme is a crucial part of being a landlord. There are three main ways of securing a deposit as outlined at gov.uk and you must register the deposit in a scheme within 30 days of receiving it. At the end of the tenancy you must agree the deductions, if any, with the tenant and return the money to them within ten days. If there are any discrepancies, then the deposit is protected by the scheme until the issues have been ironed out.
The key to successfully fulfilling your landlord obligations is to be explicitly clear as to what your responsibilities are when creating your contract. Some landlords choose to go above and beyond their legal requirements but, as a minimum, complying with the terms outlined by the government is common practise.
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