Ever wondered exactly what the responsibilities of a landlord entail? At Castles, we look at landlord responsibilities and aim to answer some common questions around what exactly a landlord needs to make sure they are doing when letting their property.
This is the third blog in our series on becoming a landlord. Previously we have discussed relevant legislation for landlords and starting out as a landlord. In today’s post we will be outlining the responsibilities of a landlord, including advice and tips to make letting a property in Swindon as easy as possible. If you are currently looking to let out your property, get in touch to speak to a member of our helpful lettings team. By letting with us, you can be assured your property is in safe hands. At Castles, we offer a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as access to more local people in Swindon who are actively looking to rent now. Contact us on 01793 422833 to learn more.
In our last post, we discussed a landlord’s legal obligations, covering relevant legislation that must be adhered to. Today, we will go into further detail on some of those obligations, as well as other responsibilities that arise when you let your property out to tenants.
Right to Rent
It is your legal responsibility as a landlord to check the immigration status of any person over the age of 18 living in the property you are renting out, for any tenancy agreement which started from 1st February 2016.
You will need to ask potential tenants for proof of their right to reside in the UK. For British and Irish citizens, a passport will be sufficient. For those who do not hold British citizenship, you will need to see any other official documents proving their immigration status. See this document from housing charity Shelter for a list of accepted documentation. You can also request a Home Office right to rent check if your potential tenant has a current case open with the Home Office. If the tenant has a time limit on their permission to stay in the UK, it is the landlord’s responsibility to undertake a follow up check at a later date.
Take copies of any documents you see and make sure you keep the copies safe. This obligation also applies to lodgers. As a landlord, you are allowed to charge potential tenants a fee for undertaking these checks and you also need permission to hold such documents on file.
If any adult living in the property does not have the right to reside in the UK, the landlord must take reasonable steps to evict them. This can mean allowing them to finish the remainder of their tenancy before evicting them or letting another adult in the property take over the tenancy if the person moves out. Advance notice should be given in any case.
Provide Information to Tenants at the Start of the Tenancy
At the start of any tenancy, the landlord is responsible for providing tenants with certain specified information. This includes an up to date Energy Performance Certificate, a gas safety certificate from a Gas Safe registered engineer check and a copy of the new government guide entitled How to Rent. This applies to all assured short hold tenancies that have been started or renewed since 1st October 2015 and prescribed information that relates to their deposit.
Tenancy Deposit Protection
The landlord is responsible for placing a tenant’s deposit in a UK government approved deposit protection scheme at the start of the tenancy (within the first 30 days of receiving it). If you receive an item instead of money, this does not need to be placed in a scheme. A tenant should be able to get their deposit back if they have met the terms of their rental agreement, have not damaged the property and have paid the rent and any bills. For properties in England, you can use the Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits or Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Find out more from the government website.
Any repairs needed on the exterior structure of a property being let is the landlord’s responsibility. This includes features such as the roof, walls and drains. Water, gas and electricity supply repairs are also the landlord’s responsibility, ensuring they are in safe working order. If the tenancy agreement states that the landlord is responsible for any white goods that are provided with the property, the landlord is also responsible for the repairs to these goods. The landlord cannot include any express terms in the rental agreement to pass off obligations onto the tenant when it comes to repairs. It is the tenants’ responsibility to inform the landlord of any repairs that are needed.
If the landlord needs to undertake repairs, they must give reasonable notice to the tenants that they are coming to the property. Unless the repairs are emergency repairs, the landlord should aim to come at a reasonable time.
Health and Safety
It is vital to ensure the landlord safety obligations are met to ensure tenants will be safe in the property and to avoid liability which can result in criminal prosecution should obligations not be met.
● Every 12 months a gas safety check must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
● Any furniture that is providing must meet safety standards such as fire regulations.
● A smoke alarm must be installed on every floor of the property.
● A carbon monoxide detector must be installed in any room in the property with a wood burning or coal fire/stove or gas boiler.
The landlord is responsible for keeping the property free from any hazards which could affect tenants’ health and safety. This includes damp, mould, vermin and any other pests.
Fit for Purpose
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 dictates the landlord’s responsibility for ensuring their property is ‘fit for purpose’. This means the property should be in good repair and structurally sound (see Repairs above), with natural lighting and proper ventilation. The property must be free from damp, with adequate drainage and sanitary facilities and sufficient insulation and energy performance. There must be food preparation and cooking facilities, waste water disposal, hygiene facilities and a supply of water and electricity.
At the start of a tenancy, the landlord is responsible for setting out and informing the tenant when and how rent is to be paid, whether weekly, monthly or in other installments. A landlord cannot refuse to accept rent from a tenant.
If a private landlord wishes to increase the rent for their property, this can only be done if the tenant agrees. According to Shelter, paying a rent increase is classed as agreeing. If you present a new tenancy agreement, the tenant is required to pay the amount in the agreement. A landlord cannot raise the rent amount in the duration of a fixed term tenancy. The exception to this is if there is a clause in the tenancy agreement that allows for rent increases during the fixed term. Once every 12 months, a section 13 notice can be issued by a landlord to increase the rent if there is no rent review clause in the tenancy agreement. The tenant does have the right to challenge an increase under this section. This guide from Shelter offers more insight into rent increases.
Enjoyment of the Property
The landlord should not interfere with the tenants’ right to enjoy the property. This means no unnecessary interference, giving reasonable advance notice and asking permission before entering the property and not harassing the tenants.
A landlord cannot discriminate against a tenant or potential tenant, either directly or indirectly, because of disability, gender, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, according to the Equality Act 2010.
If a landlord wishes to evict a tenant, they must follow the correct legal procedures and eviction process. If a landlord tries to evict a tenant without following these procedures, they could be prosecuted.
When evicting a tenant, you must follow either one of both of two different procedures, both of which start with the issue of an eviction notice.
A section 21 notice can be issued without giving a reason to end the tenancy. The tenant will have at least two months’ notice from the date of issue. A section 21 notice cannot be issued before the tenancy has lasted at least four months.
A section 8 notice can be issued during a tenancy if there is a legal reason for ending the tenancy. Reasons such as non-payment of rent or a breach of the tenancy agreement can be classed as sufficient to evict under this section.
A landlord cannot force their tenant to leave. If a tenant will not leave, the landlord must go to court to legally evict them. Find out more about eviction from housing charity Shelter, or from one of our helpful lettings advisors on 01793 422833.
Tenants are now protected from ‘revenge’ evictions for assured shorthold tenancies that began or were renewed after 1st October 2015. A revenge eviction is where the landlord tries to evict the tenant after they complain about the condition of the property or any repairs. If the landlord tries to evict a tenant after they complain, they will need to be able to prove there is a legal reason to evict.
For more information about being a landlord, see our landlord guide.
Castles Estate Agents have supported landlords in letting property in Swindon for many years, offering expert advice and guidance. We will help you navigate the requirements and responsibilities that come with being a landlord. Check back on our blog for more advice for landlords, or get in touch for a more tailored, bespoke service on 01793 422833.