Awaab Ishak was a two-year old boy who died in December 2020 due to a respiratory condition caused by the mould that was present in his families one-bedroom housing association flat. His tragic death sparked discussions around what landlord’s legal responsibilities are to their tenants and whether there are enough punishments in place for ‘bad’ landlords.
What are a landlord’s legal responsibilities?
Ensuring tenants are safe
Landlords must take measures to meet the following safety standards:
- A smoke alarm on each floor of the property
- A carbon monoxide detector in rooms with a coal fire or wood burning stove
- Every gas appliance must have a gas safety certificate
- Furniture must be safe and display appropriate labels
- All electrical devices must be safe to use – an installation survey can be completed, or the items can be PAT tested
- Water must be fully working and protected against diseases like Legionnaires
Carrying out repairs
As the landlord of the property, the responsibility of property repairs falls on you. This includes repairs to:
- Electrical wiring
- Gas pipes and boilers
- Heating and hot water
- Chimneys and ventilation
- Sinks, baths, toilets, pipes, and drains
- Common areas including entrance halls and stairs
- The structure and exterior of the building e.g., walls, stairs, bannisters, roof, external doors, windows.
You may also be required to redecorate, if necessary, after the work is complete.
The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a vital part of a landlord’s obligations and needs to be made available to prospective tenants as soon as the property goes up for rent.
Landlords in England must also ensure that an electrical inspection is arranged and carried out every five years under the regulations.
Protecting the deposit
The tenants deposit must be put in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme by the landlord if the property is rented on an assured shorthold tenancy.
Deposits are required to be returned in full at the end of the tenancy unless there is a dispute about damage caused to the property or unpaid rent due.
Assessing the right to rent
As a landlord, it is your responsibility to check that your tenant has a right to live in the UK, as if you fail to do this you could face a big fine or even in some cases be imprisoned.
You need to:
- Check which adults will use your property as their main home
- Ask them for original documents that prove they can live in the UK
- Check the documents to see if they have a right to live in your property
- Check that each tenants’ documents are genuine and belong to them
- Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date that you checked
Information for the tenant
Your tenant’s must have your, as the landlord, full name and address or details of the letting agent you work with.
New tenants should also receive a copy of the Government’s How to Rent guide that gives advice about what to do before, during and at the end of their tenancy.
Changes to rent
You must specify to tenants when and how their rent should be paid and if this a weekly payment, a rent book should be provided to them.
If you, the landlord, are thinking of changing the rent amount, you must do so in accordance with the rules on rent as they vary depending on the type of tenancy you have.
Accessing the property
As a landlord you will likely need to access the property from time to time for reasons such as repairs, inspections etc. However, it is important that you let your tenants enjoy their home without too much interference from yourself.
You should also give reasonable notice and arrange a suitable time with the tenants to access the property.
Rules of Eviction
Eviction can be a complicated legal matter that takes time to carry out, but to simplify it, there are usually three stages for most private landlords:
- Court action
- Eviction by bailiffs
If you are looking for help and advice about the duties you have as a landlord, call our offices or make an online enquiry today to speak to one of our experienced Solicitors.