We offer an advice service for private landlords on their legal responsibilities when renting to tenants. We also have powers to ensure that landlords comply with housing standards and licensing requirements.
New legislation affecting landlord and tenants
New legislation came into force in 2015 and 2016:
- Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015 - new requirements for landlords who issue assured shorthold tenancies on or after 1 October 2015
- 'Right to Rent' (2016) - all landlords in England must now check whether their tenants are legally allowed to rent.
Visit gov.uk for further information on this legislation and other essential information for landlords.
If you are a landlord you must keep up to date and compliant with all your legal responsibilities. If you do not you could face legal action or a fine.
- carrying out repairs
- meeting safety requirements
- dealing with deposits correctly
- providing certain information to tenants
- dealing with rent, evictions and other tenancy issues in the correct manner
- checking whether tenants are legally allowed to rent in England
- licensing a house in multiple occupation (HMO)
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.
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.
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. However they 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.
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.
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.
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. Visit HSE for further information.
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 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.
Landlords must put deposits for assured shorthold tenancies in a tenancy deposit scheme. Landlords must also give tenants written information about the deposit protection, known as Prescribed Information. This must be done within 30 days of receiving the deposit. A landlord can face a fine if these are not done.
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.