Landlord responsibilities and rights

Learn about your rights and responsibilities as a Landlord, from when to make repairs to checking your tenant’s right to rent.

The main Landlord responsibilities are to provide a habitable home for tenants, to undertake work as necessary on repairs, and to ensure all essential health and safety standards are met. As a Landlord you must also secure your tenant’s deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme – there are legal implications for landlords who fail to do so.

Your Landlord rights should be outlined in your tenancy agreement; if your tenants cause a nuisance to your neighbours, fail to pay rent, or damage the building or its contents, you have the right to serve an eviction notice provided you follow the correct procedures.

Right to rent – your landlord responsibilities

One of the main Landlord legal requirements is to check your prospective tenants have the right to rent your property. To avoid civil penalties, you will need to verify the immigration status of all tenants aged 18 and over. Your Landlord responsibilities with respect to your tenant’s right to rent include the following:

  • Check each tenant’s passport or other official documentation and make a copy for your records
  • Make sure you check all new tenants as it’s illegal to only ask those you think are not UK citizens
  • Conduct any follow-up checks if your tenant has a time limit on their permission to stay in the UK. There are legal repercussions for landlords who don’t follow-up within 12 months of the last check, or by the date the tenant is due to leave the UK, or by their passport expiry date – whichever is the latest.

Minimum Landlord legal requirements

Before the tenancy begins, there are basic Landlord obligations you must fulfil. Your landlord legal requirements include:

  • A gas safety certificate (for homes with gas appliances) with a safety check every 12 months by a registered Gas Safety engineer
  • An Energy Performance Certificate
  • Fire resistant furniture and working smoke alarms on each floor where these haven’t already been installed by a resident landlord
  • A tenancy deposit scheme to protect each tenant’s deposit. Failure to do so could invalidate any legal action you take if you serve an eviction notice.

Your tenants have the right to adequate natural light, ventilation and drainage without any health hazards like damp, mould or vermin. Failure to take these Landlord responsibilities seriously could result in fines or legal action against you.

Your Landlord responsibilities for repairs

One of your key Landlord responsibilities is to carry out repairs when necessary. There are Landlord legal requirements covered in common law which imply your home must be habitable for tenants. This means you are responsible for undertaking repairs to any of the following:

  • The water, gas and electricity supply
  • The structure of the building and its exterior
  • Chimneys and ventilation
  • Pipes and drains
  • Sanitation facilities like baths, basins and sinks.

Your written tenancy agreement should cover your Landlord responsibilities in detail when it comes to repairs. You should undertake any essential works before the tenancy begins, and you may wish to make an inventory of the property’s contents with dated photographic evidence of items.

Landlord rights explained

Whilst you have many Landlord responsibilities, you have Landlord rights too. Your tenants are obliged to use your home in a responsible manner as defined in your tenancy agreement. They have a duty to keep the property clean, carry out minor tasks like replacing the smoke alarm batteries, and must not cause any damage to the property aside from normal wear and tear.

If your tenant breaches their tenancy agreement by not paying rent, becoming a nuisance to your neighbours or by damaging your property or its contents, you can serve a Section 8 or Section 21 eviction notice to recover your property. There are 17 reasonable grounds for possession covered by the Housing Act 1988.

It's legal for Landlords to obtain ‘reasonable access’ to the property – for example, to carry out repairs or to inspect the home – provided your tenant agrees with at least 24 hours’ notice. You only have the right to immediate access in the case of emergencies, such as a burst pipe.

Your Landlord rights also include the right to increase rent, provided you follow the correct procedures. Your tenancy agreement should detail the circumstances around any rent increase. Typically, for a periodic tenancy you can only increase the rent once a year, unless you have your tenant’s permission. If your tenant has a fixed-term tenancy, you can increase the rent when the fixed term ends, but not beforehand without their agreement.

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