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Owe Carter

Landlord and tenant responsibilities in rental properties

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Know your responsibilities – whether you're a landlord or a tenant – in order to save yourself getting into hot water later.

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When you enter into a rental agreement there are certain responsibilities involved. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with these to avoid any misunderstandings and potential disputes.

The rental agreement should outline all of these duties, but it’s always good to have a written contract in place as a safeguard.

In general, these are the main obligations for landlords and tenants.

Your responsibilities as a landlord

  • Ensure the property is habitable and safe.

  • Protect your tenant’s deposit through a deposit protection scheme, and swiftly return it at the end of the tenancy.

  • Perform repairs to the structure and exterior of the property when needs be.

  • Repair heating and hot water installations, sinks, baths and electrical wiring.

  • Ensure gas and electrical appliances are regularly checked and obtain the necessary safety certificates.

  • Ensure furniture and furnishings provided are fire safe.

  • Provide locks and keys in good working order.

  • Provide new tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

  • Follow all fire safety regulations.

A landlord’s not responsible for any costs incurred while fixing problems directly caused by a tenant. A good home insurance policy should cover this.

Fixing sink

Your responsibilities as a tenant

  • Pay rent on time, even if you’re having problems with your landlord.

  • Pay utility bills, such as gas and electricity, telephone, broadband and so on, unless agreed otherwise with the landlord.

  • Turn off water at the mains if you’re away during a period of cold weather.

  • Pay council tax, water and sewerage charges in most cases.

  • Ensure the property is looked after and kept in a sanitary condition.

  • Get damages caused by you or your visitors professionally repaired, unless you have permission to do it yourself.

  • Don’t sublet, unless it was previously agreed with the landlord.

  • When you wish to move out, be sure to give the appropriate amount of notice. This’ll usually be outlined in the rental agreement.

  • On moving out, clean the property and restore it to the condition it was when you moved in. Any damage caused by you will likely be deducted from your deposit.

If you don’t fulfill your obligations, your landlord might be able to evict you.

Access rights

The landlord has a right to “reasonable” access to the property to perform repairs and maintenance and so on.

They should, however, always get the tenant’s permission first, and give 24 hours’ notice of a visit.

Should a landlord want to access the property for any other reason, you have every right to refuse this if the timing is inconvenient.

However, a refusal to access should be made on reasonable grounds. Tenants can’t simply bar the landlord from the property without good reason. It is ultimately their property, after all.

And if anything goes wrong

If you feel that either your landlord or your tenant isn’t living up to their legal or contractual obligations, don’t take the law into your own hands.

As a tenant

  • Make a complaint directly to your landlord. You can do it verbally or via a formal letter outlining the problems.

  • If that fails, make a complaint to your MP, councillor or tenant panel.

  • You can contact your council to report problems with your landlord as a last resort.

As a landlord

  • Talk to your tenant and write them a formal letter first.

  • If you can’t resolve the problems, you can use a mediation service to resolve issues.

  • Lastly, you can take your tenant to court if all else fails.

The law is there to protect the interests of both landlords and tenants, and there are always options to pursue without things getting too heated.

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