A Guide to Tenant and Landlord Responsibilities

Landlords have lots of legal obligations when renting out properties, but there are landlord rights, too, and tenants can’t just do as they please.

There’s never been a better time to rent a property, because tenants are better protected than ever before. A raft of measures ensures their safety and wellbeing, as well as comfort, and money is safeguarded when they’re renting a property. It goes both ways, however, and a number of key landlord rights help to protect owners of rented property, too.

Often, though, it can seem as if the deck is firmly stacked against landlords. There can be a perception, including among tenants, that all the protections are heaped upon the tenants, while landlords have little recourse if something goes wrong. Tales of nightmare tenants thrashing a flat or house and causing all manner of mayhem are, after all, all too common, and can leave any landlord wondering what they can do.

Thankfully, advances in legislation now not only protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords, but landlords from the kind of tenants they might wish they’d never laid eyes on. To achieve equilibrium in the landlord and tenant relationship and to protect each other’s rights, it’s always best to adhere to each party’s individual responsibilities.

Tenant and Landlord Responsibilities: Tenants

Let’s first look at tenant responsibilities under the law, as it applies in England and Wales. Many tenants often wonder if and when they should permit their landlord access to the house or flat they’re renting from them. The answer is that tenants are legally required to let their landlord into the property to carry out repairs or simply to inspect it.

But the landlord must give tenants at least 24 hours’ notice before turning up — and it can’t be any time of the day, either. They must do repair work or inspect the place at a reasonable time — 9pm on a Friday night would not, for instance, be considered reasonable. The only exception is if there’s an emergency and they have to deal with it straight away.

Tenants are also responsible for paying the rent, at the amount they’ve agreed to and on time. This must happen even if tenants are in a dispute with their landlord or if they feel like holding back rent because repairs to the property are necessary. People renting property also have to take reasonable care of it, pay other charges as agreed (electricity, gas, Council Tax), as well as for any damage caused to the flat or house. They also cannot sublet the property without the explicit agreement of the landlord.

What You Need to Know About an End to Tenancies

Landlords’ Responsibilities

At its most basic form, landlords are required to provide accommodation for paying tenants that’s up to a reasonable standard and is comfortable for them to live in. It must also be safe and not contain any hazards that could cause harm to those living there. Exposed electrical wiring, for example, is not acceptable in rented property, as it could cause injury or even death.

In terms of repairs, a landlord is responsible for the condition of the entire building, whether it’s a house, block of flats, or a house converted into flats. This includes the walls, roof, exterior, foundations, external piping and all the windows and doors. Internal pipework and toilets, baths, sinks and basins come under landlord’s repair responsibilities, too. Also covered by the landlord are electrical wiring, gas pipes, water tanks, radiators, boilers, gas fires and fitted heating, such as electric fires.

If any of these are in need of repair, under landlord rights, they are not usually responsible, until the tenant informs them about it. Once the repair work is done, landlords can’t then pass on the cost of it to their tenants.
Whether thinking about renting or letting out a flat or house, contact Horton and Garton to get the expert advice you need to make it all go smoothly — and so you’re fully informed about tenant and landlord responsibilities.