Landlord Responsibilities and Liabilities FAQ

Landlords have several legal responsibilities and liabilities to tenants when letting out a property.

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These can cover everything from pre-rental checks and tenancy agreements to repairs and viewings. These FAQs should answer some of the main queries about landlord responsibilities.

What repairs and maintenance are a landlord’s responsibility?

Landlords must ensure that the rental property can withstand normal weather conditions and normal use by tenants and their visitors. In general terms, this means the building must be kept in a reasonable state of repair inside and out.

Any specific responsibilities towards repairs and maintenance can be set out in the tenancy agreement.

Those that are not specified are usually covered by common law and statute and are considered part of the agreement even if they are not mentioned. These are called implied terms.

Landlords cannot avoid implied terms by adding clauses to a contract, such as stating that tenants are liable for gas repairs. Any attempt is likely to fail under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.

Do landlords have to deal with damp?

Damp, either rising damp or from condensation, should be addressed by the landlord. Even though condensation is often caused by tenants, the landlord must ensure the property is adequately ventilated and that structural problems do not cause or worsen the problem.

Condensation can bring on breathing problems, and statutory and common law places a duty on landlords to ensure there is no unacceptable risk to the health and safety of tenants and visitors.

What are the main common law implied terms?

  • Tenants have the right to “quiet enjoyment of a rented property without intrusion or disturbance by a landlord”.
  • Tenants must treat the property as if it were their own and look after it accordingly.
  • Tenants must not permit waste to build up.
  • Fair wear and tear must be accepted.
  • Rent must not be used to pay for repairs.

What are statutory implied terms?

Statutory implied terms are derived from three laws:

  • Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 – This requires the landlord to keep the property’s structure and exterior, utilities, heating installations and communal areas in good repair. This act also gives landlords access to the property, with 24 hours’ notice required. Tenants must grant reasonable requests to enter for inspections and repairs etc. The act also states that landlords can pass on the cost of repairs to tenants if their breach of their obligations caused the work to be necessary.
  • Defective Premises Act 1972 – This sets out the landlord’s duty of care to keep tenants and visitors “reasonably safe from personal injury or from damage to their property caused by a relevant defect”.
  • Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 – The of an occupier’s duty of care to tenants and visitors, and this applies to landlords as the legal occupier of communal areas.
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