A guide to the legal responsibilities of landlords

POSTED: 26th November 2013
IN: Guides

Being a landlord can be an excellent way to invest and earn an income, but the role comes with lots of responsibilities and rules that need to be adhered to.

undefinedThe main areas that a landlord needs to know about and is responsible to his tenant for relate to money and rent, privacy, safety and repairs and maintenance.

A landlord needs to be aware that the law says a property must be maintained and any major repairs undertaken that are required.

This includes anything that affects the structure and exterior as well as the electrical, heating, hot water and sanitary conditions.

There are special rules that apply to certain types of property, shared houses and renting to tenants with disabilities.

As a landlord it is your responsibility to ensure that the regulations are complied with and the safety checks have actually been carried out. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.

The tenancy deposit scheme

A landlord has to pay a tenants deposit into a government approved deposit protection scheme and this should be returned at the end of your tenancy subject to agreement on any deductions or disputes regarding the tenancy.


Landlords have to tell tenants when the rent needs to be paid each month and how the money should be paid.

Landlords can increase rent but only at certain times during the tenancy and in certain circumstances.

If the rent is paid weekly, private landlords need to provide tenants with a rent book.

Asking a tenant to leave

Landlords need to give written notice to a tenant when they want to leave. If a tenant refuses to leave a landlord needs to obtain a court order to evict a tenant unless you are an excluded occupier. The specific legal procedure that needs to be followed will vary depending on the type of tenancy and the reasons for the eviction.

Disturbing tenants

Landlords are not allowed to harass tenants by visiting too often or ay unsuitable times. This is a criminal offence that can lead to a fine or even imprisonment.

Landlords are able to gain access to the premises to inspect it and to carry out repairs but need to agree a time to do this with the tenant and provide some notice.

The amount of notice and the regularity of visits can be set out as guidance in the tenancy agreement


Under the Repairs & Maintenance- Section 11, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords are responsible for repairs to the exterior and structure of a property. So, if there are problems with the roof, drains, brickwork or guttering, then these are the responsibility of the landlord.

Landlords are also responsible for the boiler and other equipment that is used to provide heat, light and water for the premises.

Tenants are often responsible for minor repairs and maintenance inside the house, including internal decorations, furniture and keeping the garden in reasonable order.

Tenant safety

Landlords have legal obligations to ensure the safety of a tenant. This means that a landlord must obtain a gas safety certificate for each appliance in the property, ensure furniture meets fire safety standards and make sure that any work required by gas engineers is carried out as well as ensuring that any electrical equipment provided is safe.

Although not a legal requirement, tenants can ask a landlord to fit and maintain a carbon monoxide detector.

Gas safety

A landlord must make sure gas equipment is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer and have a registered engineer carry out a gas safety check on each appliance annually.

Landlords need to supply tenants with a copy of the gas safety check record before a tenant moves in or within 28 days of the check being carried out.

Electrical safety

Under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994, a landlord must make sure all sockets and light fittings are safe and that all appliances they supply are also safe.

Fire safety

Landlords need to follow the Fire safety, Housing Act of 2004.

If your property is a large one and split into bedsits a landlord must ensure that tenants have adequate fire precautions and a way of escaping from the fire.

Under the Furniture and Furnishings Regulation 1993, all furniture and furnishings need to adhere to fire safety regulations.

Property agents

Landlords have to give their tenants a name and UK contact address if the property is managed by a letting or property agent and give the tenants their own name and address.

Landlords are also obligated to tell tenants about the fees charges by the agent.

Energy performance certificates

The landlord should give you an energy performance certificate before you move in to the property which will show you how energy efficient your property is.


Landlords need special landlords insurance rather than a normal contents and buildings insurance policy. This does not cost much more than a normal home insurance policy and gives the cover you must have as a landlord.

It is not a legal requirement to have landlords insurance though mortgage companies will insist that landlords have landlords insurance as a pre-requisite for getting a buy-to-let mortgage.

Consent to let a property

If you are letting out your own home you have to apply to your mortgage company to do this.

Tax rules

Under the Taxation of Income from Land (Non-Residents) Regulations 1995, if you sell an investment property you will be liable to pay capital gains tax on the proceeds. This is charged at 18 or 28 per cent depending on whether you are a higher rate taxpayer.

You normally pay income tax on any profit you get from renting out property that you own. The amount you pay tax on is reduced by any allowable expenses that can be deducted.

Income tax is charged at the same rate as income from employment, 20 or 40 per cent, depending on whether you are a higher rate taxpayer or not.

This list is not exhaustive and readers should always seek professional advice.

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