What are the legal responsibilities of a landlord?

As a landlord, you have certain legal obligations that you must follow – these are in place not only to protect the rights of the tenant, but can also protect you and your livelihood in case anything goes wrong.

Certain procedures may vary depending on the type of tenancy, but most of the basic rules are the same for everyone to follow.

You must protect the deposit

If you are renting your property on an assured shorthold tenancy, you must protect the tenant’s deposit with an approved deposit protection scheme.

At the end of the tenancy, the deposit must be returned to the tenant – unless of course there is any damage to the property or they are in arrears with their rent.

You must not interfere

Although you are allowed reasonable access to your property for inspection or to undertake repairs and maintenance, you should not disrupt the tenants unnecessarily, and must gain their permission if you enter the home. A reasonable notice period should be given if you require access, but this is normally something that can be set out in the tenancy agreement.

If you enter the property without the permission of the tenants, this may be classed as harassment, and you could face a fine or even imprisonment if you ignore the rules.

You are responsible for repairs and maintenance of the property

As a landlord you have responsibility to carry out repairs to the structure of the property. For example, if there are any problems with the roof, walls, windows, guttering etc you must take action to rectify this.

It’s also your responsibility to ensure that the gas, water and electricity remain in safe working order.

Your tenants shouldn’t need to call you out for minor maintenance jobs such as gardening or changing plugs or lightbulbs.

Your property must meet safety standards

As a landlord you must ensure the safety of those living in your property.

You are legally obliged to:

  • Have a safety certificate for every gas appliance as supplied within the property
  • Ensure that any work that has been identified by gas engineers is carried out by a qualified person
  • Make sure that all furniture complies with fire safety regulations
  • Ensure that all electrical equipment supplied is tested and safe to use

From October 2015, it will be a legal requirement for all landlords to install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in their properties.

There are additional fire safety precautions for landlords who own buildings occupied by multiple tenants.

Rules on rent

It is up to you as a landlord to tell your tenants how and when their rent should be paid – for example whether they pay into your bank account, or by cash or cheque. This can be set out in the tenancy agreement.

If your tenants pay their rent weekly, you are obliged to provide them with a rent book.

Rental payments can be increased, yet this can only happen at certain times during the tenancy agreement and if certain conditions are met.

Keep your tenants informed

You must provide your tenants with your name and contact address – if you haven’t provided this information within 21 days you can be reported and potentially prosecuted.

This also applies if your property is managed by a lettings agent.

Follow eviction procedures

If you wish to end the agreement with your tenants you must give them the required notice as set out within the tenancy agreement – this should be in written form, either letter or email.

In case of a dispute you may need to get a court order to evict your tenants.

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