What is a landlord required to do?
Landlords have the primary responsibility of keeping tenants safe and enabling them to live comfortably. This includes ensuring the property is in a habitable condition, fire safe, utilities (Gas, Electricity and Water) are available and the relevant safety certification is up to date.
General repairs and maintenance should be resolved in a timely manner and if any breakdowns occur affecting the utilities rectifying the issue must always be treated as a top priority. Particular care should also be taken if your tenant(s) are vulnerable in any way.
Landlord obligations and regulation
In England, your basic legal responsibilities as a landlord are clear. At a high level these are:
- Keep your rented properties safe and free from health hazards
- Make sure all gas equipment and electrical equipment is safely installed and maintained
- Provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
- Protect your tenant’s deposit in a government-approved scheme
- Check your tenant has the right to rent your property if it’s in England
- Give your tenant a copy of the How to rent checklist when they start renting from you (you can email it to them)
If you are running an HMO then there may also be additional regulations that affect your property.
Property compliance and certification
By law landlords must ensure that all properties they let have appropriate certification and adhere with government regulation. The obligations differ depending on the type of tenancy so it is important to understand the differences between HMO’s and Standard Lets if you have a multi-tenant property.
The most common items you will need for your property include:
- Permission from your lender to rent the property.
- Gas Safety Certificate
- Electrical Installation Report (EIRC)
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
- Appropriate Landlord Insurance
PAT Testing of electrical appliances while not a legal obligation is also highly recommended to avoid safety issues and damage to your property.
Getting the relevant documentation has become a relatively simple process for the modern landlord with online providers such as OpenRent now offering affordable certification for a one-off fixed fee.
Health and Safety
Local councils use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to ensure that properties in its area are safe for the people who live there. This may involve inspecting your property for possible hazards if:
- Your tenants have asked for an inspection
- The council has done a survey of local properties and thinks your property might be hazardous
There are 29 health and safety hazards the government recognises and which an official inspector would look for at your property.
These include more obvious items, such as mould and damp, living conditions that are too cold or hot, rats or other vermin and water quality. But there are also some less familiar concerns landlords should be aware of, such as potential injuries falling out of the bath, physical strain from poor ergonomics (meaning ease of use of the space and its fixtures), and noise levels.
It is a very good idea to familiarise yourself with these hazards and to ensure compliance with the law.
Maintenance, repairs and breakdowns
Your primary responsibility is to ensure the property, including fixtures and the exterior, is maintained and “fit for human habitation”. This means keeping essential features in working order and removing hazards that could make the dwelling not suitable for occupation.
Once notified of an issue, the landlord must make the repairs in a reasonable amount of time, unless there is high risk of danger to tenants (for example a gas leak or a broken water main), in which case repairs should be made within a few hours. As this may require a trained professional for which you are responsible for the cost many landlords choose to take out heating, plumbing or electrical cover to ensure compliance and avoid unexpected charges.
Should repairs not be made in a reasonable time, the tenant has the right to seek compensation. This could take the form of a small claims court for repairs less than £5,000 or a deduction from their rent for any repairs carried out themselves. However, it is best to avoid disputes and prevent them before they happen. Regular maintenance and inspections can help head off issues before they become larger problems.
How Sharehouse can help with self-management
We were created to specifically support DIY landlords by making self-management simple. Our free online library of landlord resources contains everything you need to know and our network of service providers brings together industry leading companies in one place top help with all stages of the rental journey.