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Being a landlord - ongoing responsibilities

Becoming a landlord isn’t just about buying a property and renting it out for a monthly payment. When somebody invests in property with the view to becoming a landlord, they may not automatically consider the responsibilities that they are about to acquire, but it is very important to understand that they now have various legal and ethical obligations.

A landlord’s responsibility to the tenant

A tenant can only be evicted through the courts, despite signing up for a specific period of time, once that time is up you still need to go through the courts in order to evict the tenant. The tenant has the legal right to stay at the property if they would like to, and their tenancy would legally be continued. Even if it is previously agreed that they would vacate the property on a specific date, if the tenant would like to remain in the property, there would need to be a proper form of notice and you would then have to obtain an order for possession from the courts.

Once the tenancy agreement has been signed by both parties and the keys are in the hands of the tenants, it is no longer your property and you have essentially sold the property to your tenants for the agreed period of their tenancy. As the property is no longer yours, you are not allowed to enter the property at all, unless you have permission from your tenant. A key responsibility of the landlord is to not interfere with the life of the tenant, allowing them to live freely in their new property.

Maintenance and repair responsibilities

The responsibility of maintaining the property and keeping it in a good condition falls with the landlord. Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 outlines certain obligations on repairs that landlords must abide by, even if there is a contract that states that this is the responsibility of the tenant. There are several regulations that need to be complied with, particularly regulations surrounding gas and furniture. The responsibilities of the landlord in relation to repairs includes ensuring the proper structure and exterior of the property, space and water heating and installations for constant supply of gas, electric, water and sanitation. If you refuse to do the necessary repairs, tenants are able to make a claim in the small claims court for repairs under £5000, and on some occasions, they can make the repairs themselves and simply take the cost of the repairs off of their rent.

The tenant does have the right to remain in the property during repairs that are being made, but you can suggest that they move out during major repairs. Before the tenant temporarily moves out for the repairs, there should be several things agreed in writing, including how long the repairs will take, the right that the tenant has to return and finally the details of any alternative living arrangements. The property cannot be repossessed for you to conduct repairs to it, but if there are development plans or substantial work to be done, the landlord can apply to the court for an order that sees the tenants leave the property, and this is more likely to be granted if there is alternative accommodation in place.

Changes to landlord responsibilities

There are constantly various changes that are made to the responsibilities of landlords, such as new laws regarding houses in multiple occupation, energy performance certificates and tenancy deposits, all of which have been introduced within the last five years. This is due to many things such as manifesto commitments for new governments, responses to problems that arise and even as a result of a report they have commissioned.

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