Landlord Responsibilities, Duties & Obligations
One of the questions we are asked most frequently is “what are my responsibilities as a landlord?” As such, we have created the following guide on the responsibilities of private landlords, outlining 7 duties that all private landlords should be aware of when letting a property. It should also be noted that even if you have asked an agent to manage your properties for you, the landlord, responsibility to comply with the law ultimately lies with you.
Providing your tenant with all the information they need
- Before the beginning of the tenancy, landlords must provide tenants with a How to Rent guide (England only), an energy performance certificate and a gas safety certificate. Landlords should also provide deposit protection documentation and a privacy notice outlining how tenants’ data is handled. It’s important to ensure you have written confirmation from the tenant that they have received the documents.
Checking your tenant’s right to rent (England only)
- Under the Immigration Act 2014 landlords in England have a duty to check their prospective tenant has the right to live in the UK before they let a property to them. These are known as ‘Right to Rent’ checks. NLA members can find out more on the NLA Library.
Providing the terms of the tenancy agreement
- A tenancy agreement is the formal document that assigns responsibility between the landlord and the tenant for the duration of the tenancy. Legally, you don’t need a written agreement, but you’re at risk if you don’t have one before the tenant moves in. The most common form of agreement entered is the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). For NLA members model tenancy agreements are available free of charge from our website.
Property maintenance, repair and health
- A landlord must ensure that the structure, interior and exterior of the house are kept in a good state of repair. Safety in properties is governed by the Housing Health Safety Rating System (HHSRS). HHSRS is overseen by local authorities and it enables them to inspect properties, require landlords to repair their properties and in serious cases, pursue prosecution.
- The new Fitness for Human Habitation Act will also enable tenants to bring cases against their landlords for failing to provide a safe home from March 2019.
Providing clear rental obligations & protecting your tenants deposit
- Landlord obligations regarding rent should be included in the tenancy agreement and landlords should ensure that they are clear and easily understood in case disputes arise at a later date.
- It’s mandatory for landlords to protect deposits in government-back schemes within 30 days of receiving the payment, and to provide tenants with the tenancy deposit protection certificate and specified information about the scheme.
- As for council tax, in some properties the tenant is responsible for paying, and in others – particularly houses of multiple occupation where a tenant lets a room rather than the whole property – the landlord is. The NLA Library provides detailed guidance for members.
Protecting your tenant’s personal data
- Landlords handle tenants’ personal data and therefore must comply with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This includes registering with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), providing tenants and prospective tenants with a privacy notice, outlining how you will use their information, and storing and disposing of data securely. Full details and an exclusive webinar are available on the NLA Library.
Tenant referencing, referees & insurance
- To protect yourself and your property, it’s important to reference your tenants before agreeing a tenancy. This can include background and financial checks, or personal references. This will help to mitigate risks around tenants not looking after the property, building up rent arrears or disrupting neighbours with antisocial behaviour. It’s also vital when you are letting a property to multiple occupants who do not know each other – otherwise you risk your other tenants giving notice. NLA members benefit from discounts with NLA Tenant Check.
- Landlords should also factor in specialist insurance, as normal homeowner buildings insurance will not be valid. NLA members benefit from access to NLA Property Insurance.