Are Landlords Responsible for Tenants?

Renting out property is a fantastic way to make some extra money, and for many landlords, it can be a very lucrative business. There’s also a sense of pride that comes with being a successful landlord; after all, you’re providing a much-needed service to people who need a place to live. But with that success also comes responsibility. And in the case of landlords, that responsibility often extends to their tenants. 

There are quite a few situations where landlords are responsible for their tenants. This includes being responsible for tenant safety within your property, protecting tenant deposits, and carrying out scheduled repair works. As a landlord, you’re also responsible for tenant behaviour such as suspected criminal activity, nuisance complaints, and other hazards of everyday life.

As you can see, being a property owner landlord is not as easy-breezy as one might think. However, by knowing your responsibilities and fulfilling them, you can ensure that both you and your tenants are happy with the rental arrangement. In this post, we will explore the different ways in which landlords are responsible for their tenants, and also discuss the relevant laws that will apply to you as a landlord. 

3 Ways in Which Landlords Are Responsible for Tenants

Let’s take a look at three specific ways in which landlords are responsible for their tenants:

Landlord Responsibility #01: Tenant Safety

Landlords have a responsibility to ensure that their property is safe for tenants. This includes ensuring that the property is free from fire, gas, electrical, and other potential hazards.

It’s also the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that all appliances on the property are safe to use. If you’re a landlord, you are required by law to pay for such safety checks from your pocket and ensure that they’re carried out at least once in 12 months.

Landlord Responsibility #02: Protecting Tenant Deposits

In the UK, the landlord is responsible for protecting their tenant’s rental deposit by placing it in a government-approved tenant security deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receiving the security deposit. If you fail to do so, you can incur heavy fines along with complications while ending the tenancy.

Once the tenancy is over, you should also give the tenant their deposit back in full, as long as they have followed all the rules of the tenancy agreement. 

Here are our recommendations for a few government-approved deposit protection schemes you can use (For England and Wales):

Landlord Responsibility #03: Carrying Out Repair Work

According to the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 (Section 11-17), landlords are responsible for carrying out any necessary repairs to the property on behalf of the tenant. This includes everything from repairing a leaking roof to fixing a broken boiler, so they’ve access to hot water. 

Tenants, on the other hand, are only obligated to take reasonable care of the property, such as keeping the property clean and free from damage. 

If you’re a landlord, and you don’t carry out the necessary repairs, the tenant can take legal action against you. This could result in you being ordered by the court to carry out the repairs, as well as paying compensation to the tenant. Make sure that you document any repairs carried out on the property and also keep receipts for any related expenses.

In some cases, you may wish to consider appointing a property manager to deal with maintenance work on your behalf.  

Can Landlords Be Held Responsible for Tenant Behaviour?

Along with the three areas of responsibility we’ve mentioned so far, landlords can also be held responsible for their tenant’s behaviour in certain cases. Let’s take a closer look at some of them. 

Noisy and Unruly Tenants

If your tenant is causing any sort of disturbance to their neighbours, you can be held responsible for the same. This includes your tenant making too much noise, playing loud music, and engaging in anti-social behaviour. Legally, it’s even more of a hassle if you have had to be warned about the tenant’s behaviour by the police or local authority. 

You can take steps to mitigate this type of behaviour, such as serving a warning notice to the tenant and/or evicting them if the problem persists. You can also include a ‘noise clause’ in your rental agreement so that the tenant is aware of your expectations in this regard. 

Illegal/Criminal Activities

If your tenant engages in any illegal activities on the property, you can be held responsible as a landlord, especially if you have prior knowledge of such activities. Drug dealing, prostitution, and violent assault are just a few of the activities that could put you in this situation. 

When you’re renting out a property, it’s important to keep an eye out for any suspicious behaviour and report it to the authorities as soon as possible. You should also conduct extensive background checks on all your tenants before renting to them, as well as install security systems around the property. These steps can go a long way in keeping you safe from legal trouble.

Real-life Example – In 2019, landlord Leonardo Viscomi was prosecuted by the Lincoln Crown Court for having knowledge about the sale of illicit alcohol and tobacco on his property by his tenants. Hence, there is a precedent for landlords being held criminally liable for their tenant’s behavior. 

Second Hand Smoking Within the Property

The Smoke-Free Regulations Act of 2007 makes it an offence to smoke in shared parts of residential areas. If you own a property that you’ve rented out to multiple tenants, it’s your duty to ensure that they are not harmed from second-hand smoke caused by another tenant. 

As the landlord, you should either warn the particular tenant that they cannot smoke in the presence of other tenants or evict them if they do not comply with the smoke-free regulations. If you fail to do so, other tenants can sue you for damages as a result of their exposure to second-hand smoke. 

Legal Checklist for Landlords Before Renting Out Property

Being a landlord is not as easy as simply owning property and finding tenants to move in. There are a number of legal procedures involved that landlords must adhere to, or they could face some serious consequences. 

We’ve created a handy checklist of the most important legal formalities that landlords should go through when renting out a property in the UK. Make sure you go through this checklist before renting out your property, to ensure that you’re compliant with the law. 

RequirementWhat it means
Landlord LicensingCertain privately-owned properties in the UK are required to have a landlord licence before they can be rented out. Check with your local authorities whether a licence is required and what the rules and regulations are.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)EPCs assess the energy efficiency of your property so that prospective tenants can get an idea about their energy bills. This certificate has to be provided to all new tenants and must be renewed every 10 years.
Gas Safety CertificateThis certificate ensures that all gas appliances in the property are safe and certified by a Gas Safe engineer. It must be renewed every 12 months.
Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)From 2020 onwards, all landlords have to ensure that all electrical installations in their properties are safe and up to the national code. These checks must be carried out by a qualified electrician and the report must be renewed every five years.
Furniture and Furnishings RegulationsIf you’re providing your tenant with any sort of furniture or furnishings (such as beds, couches, cupboards, etc.), they must be fire-resistant and meet the fire safety regulations as set out by the Furniture and Furnishings Regulations 1988.
Legionella Risk AssessmentAlthough there is no formal report or certificate required, landlords should test the water supply in their property to ensure it’s free of Legionella bacteria. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, you can hire a specialist to carry out the test for you. 
‘Right to Rent’ CheckIn the UK, landlords are only allowed to rent property out to people who have a ‘right to rent’. This includes British, EEA, and Swiss nationals. Always check the ID proof and citizenship of your tenants before signing the rental agreement.
Provide ‘How to Rent’ GuideIn England, all tenancy agreements after October 2015 have a stipulation where landlords should provide tenants with a copy of the guide ‘How to rent: the checklist for renting in England’ published by the Department for Communities and Local Government. 
Tenancy Deposit SchemeAs we have mentioned before in this post, landlords are legally required to protect any deposits taken from tenants in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme. You can do so by using any of the three deposit protection schemes we have covered.

Remember, this checklist is not exhaustive. Many local councils have their own rules and regulations regarding rental properties, so make sure you check with your local authority as well before renting out your property.

You could also download our free guide ‘The Legal Checklist for Landlords’ – https://justdoproperty.co.uk/property-guides/

Final Thoughts

As you can see, landlords are indeed responsible for their tenants in a number of different ways. It’s important to be aware of these responsibilities and take the necessary steps to mitigate any negative effects that they may have on your property or yourself. If you’re unsure of what to do, don’t hesitate to consult with a solicitor or legal professional.

Written by Julie Hanson

LEGAL INFORMATION

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