In order to make a living as a landlord in the UK, there are a certain number of responsibilities that you will need to fulfil. It is not just a matter of finding a tenant and leaving them to it; in many ways you will need to care for the property as if you yourself were living there, or you could face serious consequences!
While day to day tasks like cleaning and basic maintenance will usually be down to the tenants, a landlord is responsible for factors such as having sufficient and reliable utilities, adequate fire safety and providing a healthy living environment. In the event that a landlord fails in their duties, they can be fined by their local council, or they may even have their property demolished!
So, exactly what are a landlord’s responsibilities when renting out a property?
Any gas appliances, chimneys, fittings or flues provided with a rental property must be installed and maintained by a plumber or heating engineer listed on the Gas Safe Register. Flues and appliances like boilers should also be serviced at a rate recommended by the manufacturer, though this will almost always be at least once a year.
An annual gas safety check should also be carried out every 12 months. The landlord should provide a copy of their gas safety check certificate when a tenant moves in, or within 28 days of the most recent check.
Another potential danger that landlords must stay on top of is inadequate maintenance for their electrical utilities and appliances. All of a property’s electrics, including any fixtures and sockets, must fall in line with minimum safety standards or tenants could be exposed to risks of shocks or even electrical fires.
For a house in multiple occupation (HMO), a landlord will need to have an electrician carry out an electrical safety check at least once yearly. While this is not mandatory for non-HMOs, it is still highly recommended.
Importantly, any electrical appliances provided by a landlord must have a valid CE marking. This is a guarantee from the manufacturer that the appliance meets the requirements set by European law.
In order to legally rent a property, a landlord needs to be able to produce a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This will provide an energy efficiency rating for the property, covering all relevant elements including the age and efficiency of the property’s boiler. The overall rating for a property must now be E or above in order for a landlord to be able to legally rent it out.
Fire safety is another key aspect of a landlord’s responsibilities. There should be a smoke alarm on every storey in a standard rental property, as well as a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (such as a wood burning stove). If a property is a HMO, fire alarms and extinguishers must be provided.
In addition to this, a landlord must ensure that any furniture and fittings in their property are completely fire safe. Tenants should also have access to escape routes at all times.
In addition to ensuring the safety of a rental property, a landlord must also provide a number of checks and pieces of documentation when taking on new tenants.
While a landlord is not responsible for day to day maintenance in a rental property, they must still work to keep it in a liveable state. This will include looking after:
If a landlord needs to make repairs then they have the right to enter their property in order to do so. However, this can only be done after giving the tenants at least 24 hours worth of notice. The tenants will also have the right to stay at the property during the repairs. The only exception is during an emergency, when a landlord may be allowed to enter the property without giving notice.
When a landlord fails to maintain a rental property in line with minimum standards, their tenant can complain to the local council and request a HHSRS (Housing Health and Safety Rating System) inspection. This will cover 29 areas of health and safety, with any issues sorted into ‘categories’ numbered according to how much of an immediate threat they pose.
Should the council encounter any significant issues, particularly any ‘category 1’ hazards, they can force a landlord to take action by issuing an improvement notice. A landlord will also have the right to appeal such a notice. In some instances the council may undertake the maintenance work and bill the landlord, or stop them from renting out the property to any new tenants.
In an extreme instance, such as if the council fails to act on any significant hazards in a property, a tenant can also take their landlord to court.