What are a land­lord’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties?

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Q What will a land­lord typ­i­cally ex­pect of me?

Any ten­ant faced for the first time with a new te­nancy agree­ment – or even at a land­lord and ten­ant in­ter­view – will know what that land­lord ex­pects them to use their new home in a re­spon­si­ble way; to keep the prop­erty clean; not to cause dam­age and to make sure their guests don’t ei­ther.

There will also usu­ally be a fairly long list of po­ten­tial re­pairs for which the ten­ant is re­spon­si­ble, which might in­clude any­thing from re­plac­ing a light bulb or fuse, to the reg­u­lar in­ter­nal dec­o­ra­tion of the prop­erty.

Q Will the te­nancy agree­ment cover all the rel­e­vant laws?

Not nec­es­sar­ily. Most ten­ants will have a writ­ten te­nancy agree­ment which de­tails who is re­spon­si­ble for re­pairs. For ex­am­ple, it might say if your land­lord is re­spon­si­ble for re­pair­ing or re­plac­ing faulty items or ap­pli­ances pro­vided by them, such as fur­ni­ture or a fridge or freezer. But, as well as the re­pair re­spon­si­bil­i­ties listed in your te­nancy agree­ment, your land­lord also has obli­ga­tions that come from law.

There are cur­rently around 150 laws that ap­ply to land­lords when they let out res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties. Broadly, these can be di­vided into two ar­eas: those that re­late to re­pair and those that re­late to the safety of the prop­erty be­ing rented.

Q What re­pairs will my land­lord be re­spon­si­ble for?

Re­gard­less of what’s cov­ered in your te­nancy agree­ment, your land­lord will also be re­spon­si­ble for keeping in good re­pair:

the ex­te­rior and struc­ture of the prop­erty – in­clud­ing the roof, chim­neys, walls, gut­ter­ing and drains – and any win­dows or ex­ter­nal doors to the build­ing.

bath­room and other water fit­tings, in­clud­ing basins, sinks, baths, toi­lets and pipework.

if you live in an apart­ment, the com­mon parts of the build­ing, such as entrance halls, com­mu­nal stair­ways and any other shared space.

By law (un­der Sec­tion 11 of the Land­lord and Ten­ant Act 1985), these re­spon­si­bil­i­ties can­not be re­moved by any word­ing to the con­trary in your te­nancy agree­ment. Nei­ther can your land­lord pass on to you the cost of any re­pair work that is their re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Q How about health and safety?

In terms of health and safety, your land­lord should make sure your home is free from any haz­ards that could af­fect any­one in your house­hold. These haz­ards in­clude damp, mould, pests and ver­min. If your prop­erty is fur­nished, your land­lord should also make sure any fur­ni­ture pro­vided meets safety stan­dards.

Cru­cially, land­lords must make sure the equip­ment for sup­ply­ing elec­tric­ity, water and gas are in safe work­ing or­der.

Gas safety Land­lords are legally re­spon­si­ble for the gas safety of their prop­er­ties. They must en­sure gas equip­ment is safely in­stalled and has a gas safety check car­ried out ev­ery 12 months by a Gas Safe reg­is­tered en­gi­neer.

A copy of the Gas Safety Record must be given to any in­go­ing ten­ant be­fore they move into a rented prop­erty, as should be any sub­se­quent re­newals within 28 days of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Records should be kept for at least two years.

Haz­ard alarms Your land­lord must in­stall a smoke alarm on each floor, and car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors in any room with a coal fire or wood-burn­ing stove.

Checks must be made by the land­lord (or let­ting agent) that each alarm is in proper work­ing or­der on the first day of the te­nancy. NB: doesn’t ap­ply if the land­lord lives in the build­ing.

Elec­tric­ity Land­lords have a le­gal duty to en­sure the rental prop­erty and any elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances pro­vided are safe. This in­cludes the elec­tri­cal sys­tem it­self as well as cook­ers and ket­tles etc. Land­lords should pro­vide ten­ants with a record of any elec­tri­cal in­spec­tions car­ried out.

Q How and when should I tell my land­lord about any re­pairs needed?

Re­port any nec­es­sary re­pairs to your land­lord as soon as pos­si­ble, even if the prob­lem is mi­nor. Your land­lord’s re­spon­si­bil­ity un­der statute is de­pen­dent on them know­ing about the need for re­pair. Land­lords don’t have to fix prob­lems in their rentals un­til they know about them.

Al­ways make your re­quest for re­pair in writ­ing if you can. If you can only re­port a re­pair in per­son or by phone, fol­low it up in writ­ing and keep a copy of your let­ter or email. If your land­lord doesn’t do any­thing, and you want to take fur­ther ac­tion, hav­ing writ­ten proof of hav­ing re­ported the prob­lem – and ev­i­dence of when – will make a claim much eas­ier to pur­sue.

Emma WarnEr-rEEd is a qual­i­fied lawyer, le­gal aca­demic and au­thor. She’s our ex­pert on law.

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