Landlords legal responsibilities
Property investment is now seen by many as the best way to provide long term financial security. Investing in buy to let properties will not only generate regular monthly returns but there is also the opportunity to ‘grow’ your money by taking advantage of increasing property values which have increased by an average of 12.3% a year since 1988.
However, the financial gains of being a Landlord also comes with a large amount of responsibility for your property and your tenants welfare and there are a number of legal and financial obligations that Landlords need to take into consideration to avoid facing penalties for non-compliance.
Below we have summarised a basic list of Landlord obligations but our experienced team will be able to provide any further advice or guidance that you may require.
- At the beginning of a new tenancy, a Landlord has to provide their tenant with the following documents and information about the property:
- An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property
- A copy of the Governments practical guide How to Rent which provides a checklist for renting in England
- Landlords contact details with information on their letting agents if they are using one
- You are legally obliged to check that your tenant has the right to be in the UK with the GovernmentsRight to Rent checks. You are at risk of a £3000 fine if you do not carry out these checks
Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP)
Tenancy deposit protection (TDP) schemes guarantee that tenants will get their deposits back at the end of their tenancy, providing that they’ve met the terms of their tenancy agreement, paid all bills in full and have not left the property in a poor condition.
The law says that landlords who let a property on an assured shorthold tenancy which started on, or after, 6 April, 2007, must put their tenant’s deposit into a government approved deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receiving it.
Failure to comply could result in you having to repay the deposit in full. A court may also order the landlord to pay you up to 3 times the deposit within 14 days of making the order.
Landlords have a common law duty to ensure that their tenants are safe and must adhere to the following safety legislation…
If there is a gas supply at the property, an annual gas safety check should be carried out by a qualified gas safe engineer to ensure that gas appliances and fittings are safe to use. A copy of the Gas Safety Certificate should be provided to tenants within 28 days of completion.
You are legally obliged to ensure that all electrical installations and appliances that you provide are safe for use. A periodic inspection and test should be carried out by a registered electrician every five years to ensure that you are compliant.
Landlords have a huge role to play when it comes to fire safety. You must provide a smoke alarm on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (for example a coal fire or wood burning stove), check that your tenants have access to escape routes at all times and if the property is furnished, make sure that the furniture and furnishings are fire safe and all compliant furniture displays labels in a prominent position.
You can find further information on all of the above Landlord safety requirements by visiting the Government website
Legionella is a type of bacteria that can cause a range of pneumonia-like illnesses such as Legionellosis and Legionnaires’ disease. People can catch the illness from hot and cold water heating systems including storage tanks which aren’t functioning properly or have been stagnant for some time. The result is that bacteria can develop and lead to a tenant inhaling infected small droplets of water contained in the air.
As a Landlord, you are legally obliged to carry out risk assessments of your property’s water supply to protect your tenant from the health risks associated with Legionella. You can carry out your own risk assessment but you must understand the sources of Legionella, what precautions to take and how to maintain and control systems to minimise the risk. You can find out more from the HSE’s free guide on The control of legionella bacteria in water systems
Repairs and Maintenance
As a Landlord, you are responsible for repairs to:
- Structure and exterior
- Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings (pipes and drains)
- Heating and hot water
- Gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
To meet your legal responsibilities as a Landlord, your rental property must be structurally sound and free from major disrepair, free from damp that could harm health, have a water supply & good drainage and have proper lighting, heating and ventilation.
If a tenant reports a maintenance issue with the property and the Landlord fails to respond within 14 days, an improvement notice can be issued by the local authority which can result in the Landlord being unable to serve a Section 21 notice for six months’ from the date of the local authority notice.
If you visit the property to assess damage or make repairs, you must give the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice or the time period that is set out in the tenancy agreement.
You can stay up to date with your legal obligations as a Landlord by regularly visiting the Landlords Hub on our website where we provide regular updates on the latest rental legislation, or you can contact one of our ARLA registered team of Lettings experts for further advice on any of the above topics by clicking here or you can call 01903 213111.
Content accurate at time of publishing.