In the midst of the UK’s housing crisis, it’s difficult to be a tenant. That’s widely acknowledged. It can also be difficult to be a landlord in this climate though. Pressure is building on all sides and now, more than ever. It’s vital to know your legal duties and rights as a landlord.
Though many landlords are crystal clear on their duties according to the tenancy agreements they have drawn up, relatively few know what is supposed to be in every tenancy agreement, and what is generally required of them by law. Clarity on these matters should allow you to protect yourself more effectively with safeguards such as landlord insurance.
First things first: the deposit you take from your tenants when they sign your tenancy agreement must be secured in one of the three government-approved Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) schemes.
Landlords are also required to supply their tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when they move into a property. This will give the building an energy-efficiency rating from A down to G, based on the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) for energy-efficiency (which is a score out of 100).
Once tenants have moved into your property, there are further duties. According to the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act, as landlord of a property you must maintain certain standards within the building.
You must keep heating and water heating facilities in good repair; maintain and repair water, sanitation, gas and electricity installations and ensure these are safe; uphold the standard of the exterior and structure of your property.
According to the 1998 Gas Safety Regulations, it is the responsibility of landlords to ensure the safety of their properties’ gas facilities. They are required to arrange the annual inspection of these by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer.
As a result of the 1994 Electrical Equipment Regulations, landlords are also responsible for the safety of all electrical facilities in their properties. There is no law requiring formal inspection, but because of their responsibility for them, landlords are strongly encouraged to inspect these on a regular basis themselves. Study a reputable set of electrics safety guidelines to get an idea of what to look out for when checking electrical appliances.
According to the Fire Safety section of the 2004 Housing Act, landlords must ensure the protection of their properties from fire. There is no legal obligation to fit all properties with fire extinguishers and smoke alarms (though alarms are obligatory for multiple occupation properties), but the installation of both is strongly encouraged.
Landlords are also obliged to ensure that all furniture in their properties meets the fire resistance requirements of the 1988 Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations.