Being a landlord

Landlord responsibilities

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Under common law, landlords must ensure the safety and maintenance of rented property and their contents so that no injury or damage is caused to the occupants, neighbours or the public. Fulfilling your responsibilities as a landlord during a tenancy can be very time consuming, which is why some people opt for a property management company to fulfil your duties on your behalf.

The property needs to be well maintained, as this is crucial to the long term success of your venture. In addition, there are a number of legal responsibilities that are placed upon you as a landlord, some of which need to be addressed even before your property is occupied.

Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, you have 3 main areas of responsibility when you property is let under an assured shorthold tenancy:

Repairs
Under the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1985, landlords are obligated to keep the structure and exterior of the property in a good state of repair. You are entitled to incorporate potential cost of repairs into the rent you charge, but you may not charge the tenants separately for repair to any of the things mentioned above. You have final responsibility for ensuring that the following areas are safe and fit for use, as well as effecting repairs when necessary to restore them to a fair condition:

  • The structure and exterior of the property.
  • Any hot water installations, as well as the supply of water itself.
  • Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary or drainage installations.
  • Ensuring an adequate provision of lighting, heating and ventilation.
  • Treating of any health-threatening damp that occurs (not to be confused with condensation, a more common but less serious problem caused mostly by poor ventilation).
  • In flats and maisonettes you must also repair any other areas or installations which you own or control and whose disrepair would affect the tenant.
  • Anything else that you mutually agree with the tenant in the tenancy agreement.

Safety of gas & electrical appliances
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 place a number of responsibilities on landlords of private residential accommodation, namely:

  • Ensuring that all gas appliances are maintained in good order.
  • Paying for an annual safety check to be carried out by a tradesman who is registered with CORGI (Council for Registered Gas Installers).
  • You must keep a record of all the safety checks and issue a copy of the safety certificate to the tenant within 28 days of each annual check.
  • You must also ensure that the electrical system and any electrical appliances that you supply such as cookers, kettles, toasters, washing machines and immersion heater are safe to use. However, you are not responsible for any appliances that the tenant is entitled to take with him or her at the tend of the tenancy.

Fire safety of furnishings
Legally, you must be able to verify that any furniture and fittings that you supply adhere to the standards set out in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. These regulations set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture. All new and second hand furniture must meet the standards, unless it was made before 1950. Most furniture and fittings that is covered by these regulation will have a label on if it meets the standards.

The only circumstances where these regulations may not apply is where you are letting on a temporary basis whilst working away from home. Any time where the primary use of the property is as a source of income will mean these regulations hold true. If you are unsure whether your property falls into this bracket, contact the trading standards department of your local authority.

You can read about the various safety regulations in more detail on the next page.

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