Do you understand your responsibilities as a landlord?

Your responsibilities as a landlord are not only a legal obligation but also make sound business sense. Ensuring the right paperwork is in place, dealing promptly with repairs and having clear communication with your tenants will help to avoid costly problems and disputes arising. Our specialist housing team has compiled some top tips on how to be a responsible landlord.

Use a formal tenancy agreement

A responsible landlord should always use a formal, written tenancy agreement. This will protect both you and your tenant.

A well written tenancy agreement will ensure that both you and your tenant are clear about the terms of the tenancy, including rent increases and your respective rights and responsibilities. This will help to avoid any misunderstandings and reduce the risk of disputes.

Use a tenancy deposit scheme

If you rent out your property you may be able ask your tenant for a deposit, but you are required by law to put the deposit in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of receiving it and must provide the paperwork to your tenants to confirm that you’ve done this.

Even if you’ve rented your property for several years to the same tenants, you will still need to secure their deposit in an approved scheme. Even if you hold the deposit in a separate personal bank account this isn’t correct and will leave you open to a possible legal challenge which could have a financial impact on you and your business.

In some circumstances you may be entitled to take money from the deposit at the end of the tenancy, and your tenancy agreement should set out the reasons where this might happen, such as:

  • failure to pay rent
  • damage to the property
  • lost or broken inventory items

However, you cannot withhold money from a deposit for ‘reasonable wear and tear’.

It’s important to document any damage with time dated photos and have your evidence ready to submit to the rent deposit scheme if you want to retain some or all of the deposit.

Ensure the property is well maintained

You have an obligation to ensure that the property is safe for your tenants to live in, so it is important to understand your responsibilities for repairs and maintenance.

Your tenancy agreement should set out exactly what repairs and maintenance you are responsible for as landlord, and what is the responsibility of your tenant. However, you will generally be responsible for any structural repairs as well as the maintenance of plumbing including bathroom fixtures, heating systems, and electrical wiring.

As a landlord you hold responsibilities to complete specific health and safety inspections, which can fall annually. If these inspections haven’t been completed, you might not be able to serve notice on your tenants or may have a visit from the local authority environmental health department.

You must also ensure that the property is fit for human habitation, unless you can demonstrate that any problems were caused by the failure of the tenant to look after the home in a reasonable manner. Factors which may make a property unfit for human habitation include severe damp or mould, extreme temperatures (too hot or too cold), pest infestations, overcrowding and lack of clean water.

Follow the correct procedures if you need to recover possession

If you do not have all the correct certificates, deposit protection and paperwork in place, your tenant could refuse to leave the property and may defend your application for possession in the court, making the process costly, time consuming and frustrating!

Need advice? Contact us today

We have a specialist housing team who can advise residential landlords about responsible property management, tenancy agreements, dealing with deposits, disrepair, dispute resolution and recovering possession.

To make an enquiry about how we can assist you as a landlord, contact us on enquiries@cartridgeslaw.co.uk or give us a call on 01392 286774.