Knowing your rights and responsibilities
Whether you’re a landlord or you’re renting a property, it can be useful knowing what the responsibilities of a landlord are or the rights that Tenants have. There are many laws and regulations that help ensure tenants have safe and suitable accommodation with fair terms to their Tenancy Agreement, and there’s no substitute for reading them yourself, but it can be helpful to get an idea of some of the key responsibilities.
In this article, we aim to highlight some of the regulations and responsibilities that you as a Landlord or Tenant are most likely to come across. If you’re looking for further information, our Guide to Landlords goes into much more detail.
Letting Agents can guide you through your rights and responsibilities
Letting a property is more complicated than most new landlords expect due to the extensive and growing list of Regulations that need to be complied with. It follows that when choosing a Lettings Agent, it is important to select one that fully understands the regulations, as well as one who is best placed to get the best rent from the best tenant. The Chancellors Group of Estate Agents has acted for thousands of landlords over many decades and is well placed to provide both.
Our extensive network of over 50 branches provides a comprehensive Marketing Service. This is backed up by central teams offering services that include Health and Safety, Contracts, Property Management, Tenancy Renewals, Deposit Disbursal, Refurbishment, and Accounting. These teams are supported by our Expert Services staff who have decades of experience.
Our processes and procedures are structured to meet if not exceed the best practice requirements as set out by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Many of our staff are members of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents. As you would expect, our Client Account has Client Money Protection Insurance cover and is independently Audited annually.
Health & Safety
Landlords have a duty of care to their tenants, reinforced by regulation, to ensure their property is safe. This includes but is not limited to:
- Fire Safety – Smoke alarms must be installed on every floor that has a room used as living accommodation, no matter how rarely it is used. Likewise, carbon monoxide alarms should be fitted in any room where solid fuel is burnt (e.g. wood, coal, anthracite) and this includes open fires or where there is an open flue. These alarms must be consistently maintained and checked at the start of each tenancy.
- Electricity – Any electrical equipment or appliances that are provided, such as fridges, cookers, washing machines, dryers or kettles must be maintained. This also applies to sources of electrical power, like sockets, light fittings or switches. Visual inspections should be carried out to ensure that they are safe before the tenancy begins.
- Gas – Appliances, pipework, and outlets of gas must be maintained and annually checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Records of these checks should be kept for a minimum of two years and a copy of a current Gas Certificate provided to given to new tenants at the start of their tenancy or to existing tenants within 28 days of renewal.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
Any accommodation shared by three or more people forming two or more households that also share basic amenities (e.g. toilets or kitchens) fall under HMO rules. A household can consist of multiple people, so long as they are “related” by blood, marriage, cohabiting, adoption, or such other recognised criteria like fostering. If two or more people are unrelated, they will be considered separate households. These lets are deemed to be of a higher Health & Safety risk that a let to a family so have more stringent Health & Safety regulations that must be complied with. See our Guide to Landlords.
Right to Rent
The Immigration Act requires that to take a tenancy applicants must have the right to rent in the UK. Checks must be carried out by the landlord or a letting agent acting on their behalf. The tenant, and anyone aged 18 or over that will be staying with them, must provide official identification or documents that prove their immigration status. List of acceptable forms of proof can be found.
Our pre-tenancy visual inspection and Key Sign Off procedures are designed to ensure all the above are in place before a transaction completes and keys are handed over.
Tenancy Deposit Schemes
Deposits held for tenancies under the Housing Act 2004 must be secured with one of various government approved schemes ( these include MyDeposits, Deposit Protection Service and Tenancy Deposit Scheme) within 30 days of the funds becoming deposit money received by the landlord or the landlord’s agent. Deposit schemes provide protection for tenants and landlords. This includes unfair deductions proposed by landlords and disputed landlord appropriate claims for any costs incurred through damage, unpaid rent, missing items or cleaning costs, and lay out a clear process for tenants and landlords to resolve any such disputes.
Inventory and Schedule of Condition
There is no law that requires an inventory of the property to be carried out, but it is generally considered best practice and would protect both landlords and tenants in the case of any disputes. The inventory should make a record of and condition of, and comment on, the condition of the property and any items supplied with the property. It is strongly recommended that an inventory should be prepared by an independent professional and include photographs to back up any statements made and provide proof of any items mentioned There should be a check-in and check-out, which is ideally carried out with the tenant present.
Unless agreed otherwise and documented in the tenancy agreement, tenants will have the right to use the entire property for the term of the tenancy. We, therefore, advise landlords to remove all items of value and items which the tenants will not have the use of from the property. If a portion of the property is to be reserved for the use of the landlord, but it will still be accessible by the tenant, it is advisable for the landlord to include these items in the inventory. The landlord is also advised to insure any items that will be left at or stored at the property.
Repairs and maintenance
Landlords are obliged by law to abide by Health and Safety regulations and ensure that their property is fit for human habitation. They are also required by law and usually required by the tenancy agreement, to repair or replace anything that they have provided unless specially agreed otherwise and set out in the tenancy agreement.
Correct at time of publication. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chancellors Group of Estate Agents Ltd or its subsidiaries. References to legislation, best practice and other matters with legal implications such as fees, rules and processes are included for information and editorial purposes only and are not authoritative, nor should they be interpreted as advice. When in doubt you should only take advice from an industry professional or solicitor where appropriate. E&OE.