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We offer an advice service for private landlords on legal requirements and we also enforce compliance with housing standards and licensing requirements. The following information is directed at landlords but will also serve to indicate to tenants the standards that they may reasonably expect to be met in their accommodation.

The following applies to most private landlords.

Landlords' responsibilities

Landlords have obligations to their tenants which include carrying out repairs, meeting safety requirements and providing certain information.

Right of access

Landlords must allow their tenants to live in the accommodation without disturbance. This means that tenants have the right to stop landlords entering without permission. Landlords do have a right to gain access to the accommodation to inspect it and to do repairs but only after giving reasonable notice.

Eviction

Landlords have to follow specific legal procedures to evict a tenant. Whether eviction is possible and what procedure has to be followed depends on the type of tenancy and the reason for wanting to evict the tenant. In most cases, landlords will need to obtain a court order to evict a tenant. If a landlord tries to force a tenant to leave without following the correct procedure, they may be committing a criminal offence.

Repairs

Landlords are responsible for most repairs to the exterior or structure of a property. This means that problems with the roof, chimneys, walls, guttering and drains are their responsibility. They are also responsible for keeping the equipment for supplying water, gas and electricity in good condition and ensuring that the property is fit for human habitation but may not be responsible for repair to damage that results from un-tenant like behaviour. Some tenancy agreements state that the tenant has responsibility for some repairs and maintenance. This usually relates to internal decoration, gardens and furniture.

Safety

Landlords have specific legal obligations to ensure the safety of their tenants and should provide and fit smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in appropriate locations and ensure that they are maintained in good working order. The design, structure and stability of the building should not pose any risk to the safety of the residents; in particular, roofs and balconies must be either entirely safe or access to them prevented. Any windows, the sills of which are at or near floor level and which may result in a fall from a height (eg, if situated on a staircase) must be safeguarded. All the furniture provided must meet safety standards and landlords should not furnish the property with older or second hand furniture which may not meet these standards.

Fire safety

If a property is occupied by more than one household (ie, a house that is split into bed-sits or a house or flat that is shared by a number of people), this is known as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). Landlords have additional responsibilities to provide and maintain adequate fire precautions.

Gas safety

Landlords must obtain an annual Gas Safety Certificate and installation and fitting must be inspected every year by a Gas Safe registered gas engineer. Only Gas Safe registered gas engineers may carry out any work on any gas installation or fixtures.

Electrical safety

Landlords must maintain the electrical installation and any equipment provided in a safe condition. Although there is no legal requirement to obtain or display an Electrical Safety Certificate, landlords are advised to do this both to demonstrate commitment to the safety of the tenants and to protect the property in which landlords have invested.

Rent

Rent can be paid weekly or monthly, although it can be paid over longer periods. Landlords must inform their tenants how and when the rent is to be paid. If rent is paid weekly, Landlords must provide a rent book. Rent may be increased at certain times during the tenancy but landlords must follow specific legal procedures, which depend upon the type of tenancy agreement in place.

Information

Landlords must provide their name and a contact address to their tenants and may also have to provide additional information about the tenancy if requested. If the property is a House in Multiple Occupation, they must also provide information relating to fire precautions and means of escape in a number of suitable locations in the property and must provide details regarding occupation to the Council, on request.

Facilities

Landlords must ensure that their tenants are provided with adequate facilities that are well maintained, clean and in good repair. These facilities include: water supply and drainage, gas and electricity, lighting, heating and hot water, toilet facilities, bath, sink and washbasin, facilities for tenants to receive post, windows and other means of ventilation and facilities for the disposal of refuse on a scale adequate for the requirements of the residents. Any outbuildings, yards, forecourts or gardens used in common, boundary walls, fences and railings must be maintained so as not to be a danger to residents.

Landlords must also ensure that any part of the premises which is subject to a closing order, or not in use, and any passage or staircase giving access to it, is kept reasonably clean and free from litter or refuse.

Related pages
Houses in Multiple Occupation
Houses in Multiple Occupation - Amenity Standards (pdf - 78kb)
page updated: Monday, 26 August 2013 © Epsom & Ewell Borough Council 2014