By Daniel McAfee
Ideally, the key to a good landlord and tenant relationship is trust. The tenant is entrusted to ensure that the property is well maintained, rent is paid on time, access is granted to the landlord to fulfil their statutory duties and they report any disrepair issues as quickly as possible. The Landlord is entrusted to ensure that the rent charged is fair, all statutory obligations are fulfilled, disrepair issues fixed within a reasonable time and the tenant allowed exclusive possession of the property without interference.
It sounds simple, but the sad reality is that landlord and tenant disputes are on the rise, and they are often not cheap to resolve. The good news is, these disputes can be avoided completely if both landlord and tenant are aware of their obligations from the outset. In this article, we will focus on the key responsibilities of a landlord.
Obligations Before You Start Renting
Before renting your property, you need to ensure that the following requirements are followed (defined in the existing law):
Keep your rented properties safe and free from health hazards.
Fit and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms
Follow fire safety regulations
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 property if it is in England
Give your tenant a copy of the “how to rent” checklist when they start renting from you (you can email this to them.
Obligations Whilst Renting
After your tenant has safely settled into their new home, your legal obligations don’t stop there.
One of the most common mid tenancy disputes arises from Housing Disrepair. Please remember that as a landlord you have a statutory obligation under S11 Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 to ensure that the “structure and exterior” of the property is free from hazards and disrepair. The tenancy agreement may include some additional repair clauses to be agreed between the landlord and tenant, but the landlord’s minimum responsibility is to comply with their statutory repair obligations.
The tenant also has the responsibility to ensure that they do their part maintaining the Property or notifying the Landlord of any disrepair in a timely manner. However ultimately, it is the Landlord’s duty is to ensure that the property is safe and is a well-maintained home for the Tenant.
The most common disrepair issues reported by tenants are:
Damp or mould (however, the Tenants must ensure that they are doing their part to reduce condensation)
Damaged or leaking roof or guttering
Broken or rotten windows and doors
Broken bathroom fittings
Internal damage to wallpaper, pain, carpets, and curtains (if included in the tenancy)
Damage or faulty electrics
Damage to internal gas and water pipe work
Any other damage to your property.
Top Tips To Avoid A Disrepair Claim
You can mitigate the risk of disrepair by:
Completing a property inventory - detailing all items in the property belonging to you
Completing a property condition photographic schedule - this should be signed by the tenants before moving in
Keeping clear records of all communication between you and the tenant - Email is best for this
Keeping records - You should keep copies of any invoices for works carried out by your contractors
Hiring a reputable property management agent
Hiring reputable, insured contractors to undertake repairs to the property
Taking out landlord insurance
Ultimately, clear communication with the tenant is the best way to establish trust and to ensure that the property remains in good repair throughout the tenancy. If you are unclear whether you have complied with your obligations for an existing tenancy or would like a full assessment and guidance before renting your property you can reach me via Lawhive.
Daniel is an experienced Civil Litigation Solicitor with a demonstrated history within the Personal injury, Landlord and Tenant, Housing and Alternative Dispute Resolution sectors. Since graduating from the University of Liverpool in 2013, Daniel’s main area of focus is facilitating access to justice and the recovery of compensation for those in need.