It is important to know and understand your rights and responsibilities as a landlord as well as the tenants. The tenancy agreement, which is signed by both the landlord and the tenant, will detail most of both your obligations.
Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (TDS)
Landlords are obliged to place their tenants’ deposits in one of the Government approved tenancy deposit protection schemes. This is to ensure the deposit is protected and fairly returned to the tenant at the end of the agreed term.
You or your letting agent will need to protect the deposit with such a scheme within 30 days of being paid by the tenant.
If there are any disputes at the end of the tenancy, the deposit will be held until the issue is resolved. If the issue is not resolved, each scheme offers free independent adjudications to settle the matter.
Access to the property
If you want to access the property you must provide the tenant with at least prior to notice as agreed in the tenancy agreement. However, the tenant has the legal right to freely enjoy the property during their tenancy without frequent visits from the landlord
Safety and general maintenance
The tenant has the right to live in a safe and secure property that’s in a good state of repair, and it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure the property meets this standard.
The property must meet the gas, electrical and fire safety standards stipulated by the various regulatory bodies. Regular inspections are required to ensure the standards are maintained.
If the property develops any defects to its structure or integral elements, including pipes, wiring, heating, toilets and shower, timely maintenance must be provided.
Landlords are required by law to check all gas-related equipment at least once every year. Tenants can be expected to regularly test smoke on carbon monoxide alarms, replace batteries when necessary as well as reporting any issues immediately. This should be outlined in the tenancy agreement.
If a tenant requests an inspection on health and safety grounds, a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) inspection may take place. This could also happen if other properties in the area have failed to meet the required standards and the council suspects that your property may be in a similar condition.
After the inspection, there may be a list of actions that you are required to complete in order to bring the property up to the required standard.
If the property is furnished, the furniture must meet the guidelines set under the Furniture and Furnishings Fire and Safety Regulations 1988 (as amended 1993).
Evicting Tenants and taking possession
In the case of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, the tenant has the right to remain in the property for six months, unless they break any major terms of the agreement. The tenancy can be terminated by either party after this time without providing a reason for termination, if the tenancy agreement allows for this.
If the tenant is in breach of the tenancy agreement, then the landlord may be within their right to apply to the courts by a serving the tenant with a section 8 notice of seeking possession. This is a formal procedure and landlords must outline the specific terms the tenant has breached.
Landlords are entitled to dispose of any belongings left in the property two weeks after the tenancy has terminated, but endeavours should be made to have the tenants retrieve their left property.
Accidents and injuries suffered within the property
Landlords are strongly advised to take out letting specific buildings contents insurance cover against any personal injuries claims by tenants, their visitors or tradespeople while in the property.
Other landlord responsibilities
As well as the responsibilities mentioned above, the following are also applicable:
- You cannot discriminate against tenants or treat them differently because of their race, gender, sexual orientation or religion
- Pregnant and disabled tenants should also receive fair and equal treatment.
- You must keep to the terms outlined in the tenancy agreement
- You must supply your contact details to your tenants
- You must supply an up to date EPC which complies with Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)
- Locks cannot be changed without informing the tenant
- Give the tenants space to freely enjoy the rental avoiding unnecessary frequent visits
- Obtain all necessary contents to the letting, lender freeholder insurer
- Maintain the property in line with statutory requirements