Landlord Responsibilities: Garden, Mould, Boilers & More
24 June 2021
Landlords have certain legal responsibilities when it comes to letting and maintaining their rental properties.
Even if a landlord doesn’t list these responsibilities in a tenancy agreement, they remain legal responsibilities.
Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, it’s worth knowing just where landlords’ responsibilities lie. Let’s take a closer look.
Landlord Responsibilities at the Start of Tenancy
In England and Wales, Landlords have a legal responsibility to carry out a right to rent check. This means they need to check any potential tenants’ immigration status. At the start of a tenancy, landlords must provide their tenants with an energy performance certificate (EPC), a gas safety certificate, and a copy of the How to Rent guide.
These rules do not apply in Scotland.
Landlords in Northern Ireland must follow various equality laws when letting their property, including the Disability Discrimination Order (NI) 2006 and the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976. For more information, contact the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
If the tenants are assured shorthold tenants (which most tenants are!) then the landlord must keep the deposit in a deposit protection scheme. There’s a separate tenancy deposit scheme in Northern Ireland. Find out more here.
Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs, Maintenance, Safety
Landlords have a legal responsibility to keep their properties safe and free from health hazards.
Boiler and Gas Responsibilities
Landlords must ensure that any gas equipment they supply, including boilers, ovens, and fireplaces, is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Once a year, the landlord must arrange for a registered engineer to perform a gas safety check on every appliance and flue.
Landlord Electricity Safety
Landlords must ensure that their property’s electrical system is safe. There should be no issues with sockets, wiring, or light fittings. They should also ensure that all the appliances they supply are safe.
Smoke Alarms & Fire Safety
Landlords must provide smoke alarms for every floor of their property, and carbon monoxide detectors for any room that contains either a coal fire or a wood burning stove.
As part of their responsibilities to follow fire safety regulations, landlords must ensure that their tenants have access to escape routes at all times.
What Repairs Are Landlords Responsible For?
Landlords are responsible for most repairs in their rental properties. This includes any repairs to:
- The property’s structure and exterior – including the roof, brickwork, and guttering.
- Plumbing – including basins, sinks, baths, pipes, and drains.
- Heating and hot water – landlords are responsible for boiler repairs, as well as repairs to gas appliances and associated pipes, flues, and ventilation.
- Electrical wiring, along with repairs to any electrical appliances they supply, such as showers and cookers.
Landlords must also address any damage they might cause through attempting repairs. They cannot force their tenants to undertake any repairs that are their responsibility.
In Scotland, landlords must ensure their properties meet the repairing standard. The Housing and Property Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal can order landlords to carry out any work necessary to meet these standards, with fines for any who refuse.
Additional Property Health and Safety Issues
Landlords are also responsible for addressing certain potential hazards in their properties. These include:
- Broken boilers, where there’s a risk of gas leaks.
- Damp or mould on the walls or ceiling.
- Exposed wiring.
- Pest infestations.
While landlords are obliged to address these issues, tenants are obliged to give their landlords “a reasonable amount of time to carry out the work.” If the landlord hasn’t addressed the issue in a reasonable time, tenants may escalate the problem to their local council.
Are Landlords Responsible for Garden Maintenance?
When it comes to gardens, landlords’ responsibilities essentially extend to addressing any potential health and safety issues. This might include pruning trees and repairing boundary fences and walls. Beyond this, there’s nothing in housing law concerning who’s responsible for garden maintenance.
However, tenants are obliged to abide by the terms of their tenancy agreement. If a landlord wants tenants to take care of the garden, then they must make it clear in their tenancy agreement exactly what they expect of their tenants.
Landlord Notice to Visit Tenants’ Property
Landlords must let their tenants live in their homes without unnecessary interference. They should always give tenants sufficient notice if they need to visit the property, for whatever reason. Landlords must never let themselves into their property without their tenants’ permission.
There are also laws concerning harassment. There’s a detailed guide to the sort of behaviour that might count as harassment on Shelter’s site. Find it here.
Can Landlords Increase Rent Without Permission?
Generally speaking, landlords cannot increase the rent without their tenants’ express permission. And if they do increase the rent, the increase must be “fair and realistic”, and in-line with average rates in the local area.
In periodic tenancies, such as those that operate on rolling contracts, landlords cannot increase the rent more than once a year. In fixed-term tenancies, landlords can only increase the rent if their tenants agree to the increase. Otherwise, they may only raise the rent on a property at the end of the fixed-term contract.
Landlords can outline procedures for increasing rent in their tenancy agreement. If they do so, they must stick to these procedures. Otherwise, they can propose a rent increase in a number of ways, such as through providing tenants with requests in writing.
In any case, landlords must provide tenants with at least one month’s notice should they wish to propose a rent increase. If it’s an annual tenancy, they must provide at least six months’ notice.
Can Landlords Evict Tenants?
Landlords may not evict tenants without providing sufficient notice and court orders. You can learn more about the eviction process in our guide to what to do if tenants don’t pay rent. This guide includes details of landlords’ legal responsibilities throughout the eviction process.
In Scotland, landlords must serve a Section 11 notice if they wish to evict their tenants. This involves notifying the tenants’ local council. The council might then intervene to try and stop the eviction, often through mediation. They may also discuss alternative housing options directly with the tenant.
Landlords Responsibilities – At The End of The Tenancy
If the landlord used a deposit protection scheme, then tenants should get their deposits back so long as they’ve met the terms of the tenancy agreement and kept up with rent and bill payments.
At the end of the tenancy, once the tenants have vacated the premises, landlords should inspect the property. If the property’s still in good condition, then they must return the tenant’s deposit. The landlord can make deductions for any repairs or renovations they might have to make, but they must inform the tenant of these reductions, and of their reasons for making them.
Landlords must return tenants’ deposits within 10 days of agreeing with the tenant as to how much they’ll return.
If the landlord did not use a deposit protection scheme, tenants are within their rights to take legal action. If their case is successful, the landlord may have to pay the tenants up to three times the amount of the deposit. Failure to use a deposit protection scheme also means that landlords cannot serve tenants with Section 21 eviction notices.
At Hazelton Mountford we specialise in tailoring comprehensive policies for property owners, landlords and letting agents that will cover you for all the risks associated with renting.
What About Tenant Responsibilities?
Tenants are obliged to abide by any conditions the landlord outlines in the tenancy agreement. Usually, this extends to always paying rent and bills on time while keeping the property in good condition.
Landlords should outline in the tenancy agreement should the parts of the rental property for which they consider their tenants liable. This might include fixtures, fittings, carpets, soft furnishings, white goods, appliances and furniture. Tenants should consider getting liability insurance to cover them for accidental damage to any part of the property for which they’re liable.
At Hazelton Mountford, we offer tenants’ contents insurance cover. Our tenants home contents insurance policies start at as little as £9 per month. Get in touch to get a free quote online in minutes.