Landlord responsibilities - Understanding your legal obligations

By Jonathan Daines

Landlord responsibilities when handing over keys to a tenant couple

Landlord responsibilities when letting a property

Although most landlord responsibilities are laid out in the agreement, unless using a plain English tenancy agreement, the legal terms used can make deciphering your responsibilities somewhat of a challenge – even for legal boffs!

We have written a detailed 30 point landlord checklist which you can download.

Before entering into a tenancy agreement, the landlord should go through each section with the tenant.

What are landlord responsibilities during a tenancy?

During a tenancy, a landlord is responsible for the exterior of the property including:

  • Doors and window
  • Walls and roofing
  • All gutters, drains and pipes
  • Garden walls, gates and fences
  • Gardens and patios – Although, in some cases, tenants are happy to take on this responsibility.

A landlord also has specific obligations within the property and these include:

  • Interior electrical wiring and electrical sockets.
  • Radiators, water tanks and boilers.
  • Baths, basins, sinks and toilets.
  • If there’s a gas supply then landlord responsibilities include a gas safety certificate every 12 months by a GasSafe registered engineer.
  • The property should also have an up to date Energy Performance Certificate – you can search the EPC register to see if you have one.
  • All furnishings, white goods and other appliances are in good working order and safe to use.
  • A landlord is also responsible for dealing with any issues of internal damp caused by external faults.

What are tenant responsibilities during tenancy?

The tenant is responsible for keeping the interior of the property and any furnishings clean and well maintained.

This includes the repair of:

  • All internal doors.
  • Any internal skirting boards.
  • All internal plasterwork.
  • The repair or replacement of any breakages caused by the tenant.
  • The replacement of blown light bulbs.
  • The removal of any blockages caused by the tenant from sinks, basins, baths and toilets.
  • The replacement of blown electrical fuses.
  • The tenant would be responsible to maintain the garden if they agree to do so.

The tenancy agreement

Both the landlord and tenant are bound to the terms of the tenancy agreement.  However, there are occasions where even if the landlord has included certain tenant responsibilities, the tenant is not obligated to carry them out.

This may include:

  • When the landlord states that the maintenance of a gas boiler or appliance is the responsibility of the tenant. Under no circumstances should this responsibility fall on the tenant.  The landlord should ensure that a thorough check has been carried out on all gas appliances and boilers. He should also have a landlord’s Gas Safety Certificate of which the tenant should receive a copy.
  • It is also highly unusual that a tenant should be expected to completely redecorate the property at the end of their agreement.  If the interior walls and ceiling of the property have been kept in good repair by the tenant and there is no mention of complete redecoration in the agreement then a tenant is not obligated to redecorate.  The landlord has no right to withhold their deposit.

Landlord responsibilities towards the deposit

The deposit paid by the tenant at the start of their tenancy agreement is usually the equivalent to 1 month’s rent (maximum of 5 weeks’ rent).  By law, it is a landlord’s responsibility to secure the deposit in a holding account with the Deposit Protection Service or DPS.   On vacating the rented property a tenant will need to apply to the DPS for the return of their deposit and a landlord has no right to withhold a deposit without good reason.

However, there are some circumstances under which the landlord has a right to withhold some or even all the tenant’s deposit.  This may include an occasion where the tenant had caused damage to the property or furnishings belonging to the landlord and had not repaired or replaced the items.

A landlord cannot withhold part or all of the tenant’s deposit for general wear and tear of the property.

About Jonathan Daines

As Founder and CEO since 2008, Jonathan’s passion for property, technology and entrepreneurship inspired the creation and innovation of LettingaProperty.com. With the support of a dedicated team of industry professionals, for the past 11 years he has built a digital marketplace offering low-cost services that empowers landlords and tenants to let and rent property with ease.

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Landlord responsibilities when letting a property
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Landlord responsibilities when letting a property
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Landlord responsibilities are laid out in the agreement. There are situations where you will need to know the law. Read on learn more.
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LettingaProperty.com
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3 Comments

    April 4, 2012 REPLY

    Oops I forgot to say I have two viewings for my flat – thanks guys

    April 4, 2012 REPLY

    Nice piece.

    THE most important thing is to set realistic expectation for both parties. The document that best achieves this is the Inventory. Many landlords think that putting terms in an AST is the best way to manage this but the fact is that many terms are not enforceable/unfair terms in the eyes of the OFT and therefore the landlord has wasted the opportunity to protect himself fully.

    A really strong Inventory is to a landlord what the shell is to a Tortoise.

    Follow me on Twitter @landlordtweets

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