NetMovers feature: Your responsibilities as a landlord

Landlords are bound by law to take on certain responsibilities. Sometimes landlords might be tempted to omit certain items from a tenancy agreement but if the law states that the onus for sorting something out is yours, then it doesn’t matter what’s in black and white on the agreement.

This article covers basic responsibilities for short term tenancy private landlords in England; for those in Scotland and Wales, longer or council tenancies, the rules may differ, so always check if in doubt.

Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, as a landlord you have to maintain and repair the structure and exterior; basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary installations; and heating and hot water installations. If damage occurs to a tenant’s property as a result of the rental property falling into disrepair or a specific repair has not been made, you might also have to repair or replace the tenant’s property. Repair and maintenance costs should be taken into consideration when setting the rent and money laid aside; they shouldn’t be recuperated through an additional service charge to your tenant. Check the terms of your landlord’s insurance for what is covered and what is not.

Aside from this, you may decide that you would prefer to keep other aspects of maintenance under your control – for example, if the garden is particularly gorgeous you might want to take up a contract with a firm you know; if your rental property is historical or listed, or has some internal features you are keen to preserve, your rental agreement should stipulate what the tenant can and cannot do.

Gas cookers, fires and boilers that are part of the tenancy agreement have to undergo an annual safety check; details of the safety checks must be supplied to the tenant within 28 days of completion, every year.

Setting up a property with equipment and/or furniture brings a new set of legal obligations with it.

 If you provide a washing machine, kettle, toaster, heater or other electrical accessory for your tenants, you should regularly arrange to inspect their state – for example, damaged cables, leaks, and so on. These should be industry tested every ten years – though, in all reality, they may already have been consigned to the scrapheap as they tend to break the day after the 12 month guarantee ends!

Should your rental property come with a living room suite, beds and other items of furniture, it is your responsibility to ensure they meet the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 unless it is period furniture made prior to 1950.

It’s in both party’s interests to sign a written tenancy agreement that lays this out. If anything, a written agreement can prevent arguments and make it clear who is doing what. However, even a verbal tenancy agreement is bound by the law.

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