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Legal Responsibilities of Landlords in the UK

The rental sector in the United Kingdom has become increasingly popular over the past decade, with more and more Britons opting to rent their homes rather than buy. Every property investor needs to be familiar with how to protect themselves legally. Property owners or landlords that fail to meet the legal commitment may face serious consequences, including imprisonment or fines. Here are some of your liabilities as a property owner, landlord, or otherwise.

Ensure repairs ARE Made

All Landlords must ensure that major repair work is required. If two or more relevant properties need work on gas safety appliances or fire safety equipment carried out, you must do so without delay. “Relevant” means within your control, for example, where you live in an HMO or where you manage a block of flats. 

However, suppose the repair work is not your responsibility, for example. In that case, if it requires the consent of another landlord for access to their property, you should take reasonable steps to help get this work done. It could include invoking your legal right to terminate the lease.

Protect tenants’ deposits

If you manage an HMO with three or more stories and at least five residents sharing facilities such as cooking or washing room facilities, then you must complete the landlord’s Self-Certification application within 30 days of becoming their landlord. If any private landlord who rents out accommodation privately fails to protect the deposit taken from their tenant/s in one of three government-authorized schemes (TDS, MyDeposits, or Deposit Protection Service), they are liable to a fine of up to three times the value of the deposit. 

Manage Habitation Standards

All landlords have two legal responsibilities concerning habitation standards. The first is that the property must meet health and safety legislation, including fire prevention – this means all equipment must be in working order. It includes smoke alarms on every floor of your property and carbon monoxide detectors if it has an appliance burning fuel. Landlords also need to ensure no apparent hazards in their properties, for instance, making sure there is nothing that could cause someone to trip over or fall on stairs.

The second legal responsibility is to maintain “fitness for human habitation”. It means that the property must be maintained to a level where it is reasonably suitable for occupation. In other words, you cannot just turn up at the property whenever you wish and expect your tenants to move out. You need both written agreement from your tenants and proof that they have been notified of this entry beforehand.

Comply with fire regulations

Landlords are required by law to provide a “fire risk assessment”,

which includes details on how all escapes should take place in case of fire, including how many people are living in the accommodation, their location, and so forth.

The local authority can insist that you carry out any work needed as a result of such an assessment (although note that an HMO landlord does not have to comply with the “escape” element while more complex HMOs may be subject to different regulations).

If you are an HMO landlord, you must also make fire escape plans available to the local authority on request. If your property is at risk of fire or has a high risk of intruders, then you should invest in high-quality security systems for your homes, such as monitored alarms and CCTV. 

* Since October 2015, new laws are now in place, which means that all landlords must ensure that their properties are fit for human habitation before renting them out. It ranges from providing enough smoke alarms in the house to ensuring all kitchens have been appropriately maintained. You can read more about this new act here.

Always keep the property wind and watertight

If you are renting out your property. It is your responsibility to make sure that any defects in the building are immediately repaired. It includes fixing leaks or faulty windows to prevent dampness. You should also maintain all of the home’s structure, including walls and fences. Under no circumstances can you take advantage of any problems with the property by increasing rent or evicting tenants for falling into disrepair. 

Keep records up-to-date

As a landlord, there are several legal requirements that you must be aware of (which may change depending on which year you’re reading this article). First, if an individual tenant lives in your house, you should always have a durable signed tenancy agreement in place. It includes the amount of rent to be paid each month, how long it is for, and any other conditions you wish to have (such as pet rules). If multiple tenants live in your house or share facilities such as kitchens or bathrooms, this is considered an HMO. If that is the case, you must hold a license from your local authority.

Always conduct home visits before handing over keys

Before giving possession of the property to any tenant, you must do these things:

  • Visually inspect the inside of the property with them and provide them with a copy of an inventory check-in report
  • Give them all keys and security devices 
  • Ask for a photo Identity Card and proof of income (if applicable)

Conduct a reference check on the applicant/s living in the property, including asking previous landlords or employers for any information. If you are unsure of who to ask or what questions to ask, it is always best to consult Landlord & Tenant Solicitors as they may help with some suggestions.

Ensure that the tenancy agreement is watertight

To protect yourself from any problems occurring during your tenant’s stay.  You should always ensure that all tenancy agreements are as specific as possible.

To help prevent issues arising from miscommunications,  Make sure there is no ambiguity in anything that has been agreed upon by both parties

even if this means going into painstaking detail about tasks such as dishwasher cleaning and laundry duties.

Not only will this show the tenant that you’re taking your job as a landlord seriously, But it may also help to avoid any misunderstandings.

Inform neighbors of ongoing renovation work

Renovation and improvement work can be pretty noisy. If tenants live close by they would likely appreciate the early warning about where the most noise will come from

When this might occur. If possible large put-up signs around your property’s perimeter so people walking past know what’s happening,

Especially those living closest to you who may be most affected by the work.

Ensure that tenant’s responsibilities are clear

Along with your tenant’s rights, it is also important to outline their responsibilities in the tenancy agreement. It could include any commitments they’ve made regarding noise levels or even food waste disposal. Alternatively, look at similar agreements online that other landlords have written up. 

Protect yourself against fraudulent activity

Fraudulent activity tends to gain momentum when people think nobody can see them. that’s hiding face with a hoodie while committing a crime or not revealing your identity as a landlord during rental negotiations.

Before agreeing with a tenant. Ensure that the person is who they say they are by requesting a photo ID. proof of income if applicable.

Conclusion

Landlords are responsible for the safety of their tenants. They must ensure that all common areas like Hallways,  Stairwells are well lit at night to ensure safety. It is also important that landlords keep up with any repairs, maintenance needs to keep their property safe for tenants. Before signing contracts, make sure you fully acknowledge your legal responsibilities as a landlord!

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