Residential landlord – responsibilities & rights

The issues surrounding Landlord and Tenant obligations and responsibilities are vast and in general due to either ignorance of the law or their obligations, the landlord is often found to be in the wrong. The main issues when dealing with tenants are failure to pay the rent or difficulty in evicting a tenant. The main

Home » Property law » Residential landlord – responsibilities & rights

The issues surrounding Landlord and Tenant obligations and responsibilities are vast and in general due to either ignorance of the law or their obligations, the landlord is often found to be in the wrong.

The main issues when dealing with tenants are failure to pay the rent or difficulty in evicting a tenant.

The main obligations of the landlord are:

  • Keeping in good repair the fabric, structure and external features of the property
  • Repairing the plumbing, toilets, baths, sinks etc
  • Ensuring that the boiler, heating, gas, electricity and hot water tanks are maintained and are compliant with health & safety requirements
  • If the property has communal parts, the landlord would be obliged to keep these in good repair, if they would adversely affect the tenant.
  • To place the tenant’s deposits in to an official Deposit scheme and to notify the tenant of details of such a scheme, within the allotted time limits.

Damage by the tenant

It may be the case that the tenant damages the property, but the landlord would not be responsible to repair any such damages and the landlord would be able to reimburse himself from the tenant’s deposit (provided the tenant is given a full breakdown of costs deducted), should any repairs due to the tenant become necessary.

Access Rights

Additionally, as a landlord, you have the right to enter the property at a reasonable time, provided that reasonable notice has been given, in writing, and the tenant does not object. If the tenant does object you should exercise caution and ought to take legal advice.

What is deemed as ‘reasonable time’ is usually set out in the tenancy agreement, but must not be less than 24 hours notice, unless in case of an emergency, such as a leak.

Access is usually requested in order to inspect the property for any defects complained about, or to visit the property with contractors to repair any such defects. Many tenants complain that the landlord continually seeks to access the property and landlords must be careful here, as there is a risk that if the access visits are numerous, unreasonable or the tenant does not believe there is a legitimate reason, this could be seen as harassment of the tenant.

The essence of a tenant/ landlord relationship is set out in the tenancy agreement, which is agreed at the start of the term. This sets out all the rights and obligations that both parties enjoy and if these terms are not adhered to, that party is likely to be in breach of the agreement.

For example, if the tenant does not allow access to the property, they may also be seen to be in breach of the agreement and the landlord can apply to the county court to issue an injunction to gain access to the property.

Alternatively, if the tenants are problem tenants, a Section 21 Notice can be served, and this will effectively end the tenancy with the correct notice.

If the tenant breaches their obligations, it is likely that they would be in breach of the tenancy agreement, but of course this depends upon the terms of any such agreement. If they are in breach for failure to pay the rent, the landlord has the right to recover any rent arrears owed and to evict the tenant although a money claim cannot be included with a possession claim under the accelerated possession procedure (section 21 notice).

These rights are statutory and are governed by the Housing Act 1988. Again, in this case, a Section 21 or a Section 8 Notice would need to be issued.

There are, however, various procedures to follow, to ensure that the appropriate end result is achieved.

Section 8 Notice

Section 8 notices are used to end an assured shorthold tenancy agreement when the landlord wishes to gain possession of the property on a number of grounds, such as unpaid rent, complaints of nuisance to neighbours, or due to a breach of the tenancy agreement.

This notice is served on the tenant, but the amount of notice you have to give varies as to the grounds you are seeking to rely upon. For example, if you are relying upon ground 2 – the tenant is in rental arrears of 2 months or more, then two month’s notice is required. However, if ground 12 is relied upon – the tenant has breached the tenancy agreement, then only 2 week’s notice is required.

Section 21 Notice

This notice is used when the landlord wants to evict the tenant and start possession proceedings in the county court based on expiry of the tenancy term. The landlord cannot serve this notice within the first 6 months of a tenancy, unless it is a fixed term tenancy. In this case, the notice can be served at any time, excluding the time prior to the tenancy starting and provided that the tenant gets at least two month’s notice. This means that a landlord should serve notice at least two months before he wishes the tenant to leave the property. The form of the notice is technical, and needs to be accurate in every respect. If it is not, it may result in the whole process, including the 2 month period before proceedings can even be started, to have to begin again.

Once the notice has expired and the tenant has not left the property, the landlord can issue proceedings in the court, either by the standard route or the accelerated route. See more about possession claims here on the site.

If you are a landlord and are unsure of your rights, Darlingtons Solicitors can help you. We draft Section 8 and section 21 Notices and can help with issues relating to difficult tenants and breaches of tenancy agreements.

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