- Your landlord can be a person, company or your local council
- Your tenancy agreement is the official document that records the rights and responsibilities of you and your landlord
- The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 guarantees your basic tenant rights
- There are standards that your rental property must meet to be ‘fit for purpose’
- The property must meet safety standards for gas, electricity and fire
- Tenants are entitled to a property that is safe from all health hazards
- Tenants must have access to running water and facilities for personal hygiene and sanitation
The primary role of the landlord is to provide accommodation. The tenancy agreement obliges the landlord to both to give out their property for use, but also service these properties and ensure they are safe and up to quality.
The accommodation provided has to be of a decent standard and ‘fit for purpose’ (see below).
It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their property and to keep it well maintained. This applies to the whole structural part of the property as well as interior fittings, furnishings and appliances. It is also the role of the landlord to make sure that you, as a tenant, are aware of your duties and responsibilities and to help address any issues you may have before and during your tenancy. Landlords are also required by law to protect your deposit in a government approved tenancy deposit service.
Who is your landlord and what is your tenancy ?
Your landlord can be a private person, who owns one or more properties.
Your landlord can be a private company, who owns many properties, and is not a single person, but a business company.
Both private persons and private companies are allowed to rent their properties to private tenants, but both the landlord and property must meet certain criteria to be rented legally. When renting from a private landlord, you’re most likely to use an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. It will represent the law and include both the rights and responsibilities of the landlord, and the tenant.
Your landlord can be a local council. The local councils provide accommodation to citizen who have applied to become council tenants and qualify against set criteria. Every council sets its own standards for who is eligible, but more priority is given to those in higher need, e.g. homeless, disabled, people with physical and mental health impairments, etc. You can find the exact application requirements at your local council. You can enter in multiple different tenancy types when renting from your local council.
Regardless of what tenancy you have entered, you have your basic tenants rights protected. But you also have responsibilities as a tenant. Both your rights and responsibilities will be detailed into the tenancy agreement which you have to sign.
With their signatures, tenants acknowledge their rights and responsibilities, and those of the landlord, as documented per the tenancy agreement. However, there are core laws, defined in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, and a handful of other included in the British legislature. Any tenancy agreement in contradiction of these laws is invalid and cannot be used in the courts of law.
What landlords need to supply as part of the tenancy agreement
Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 a property for rent has to be ‘fit for purpose’ and therefore:
- In good repair
- Structurally sound
- Free from damp
- With natural lighting
- Have adequate ventilation
- Have a water and electrical supply
- Provide methods to heat water and space
- Sufficient insulation and energy performance
- With facilities for personal hygiene
- With drainage and sanitary conveniences
- With facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water
Each of these features is inseparable to normal modern life, and landlords has to maintain each of them in good working order throughout the tenancy.
Landlords have four main responsibilities with this Act in mind:
- A duty to carry out repairs
- Ensure the safety of gas and electrical appliances
- Put fire safety measures in place (including fire-proof furnishings)
- Make sure the property is free of health hazards of any type
Note: As a tenant it is your duty to promptly report any faults and defects that arise with the property. It is the duty of the landlord to ensure that necessary repairs are carried out. However, the landlord is only responsible for repairs and damages that they are aware of.
Health Hazards and Safety
Your landlord is legally obliged to carry out certain inspections by regulated professionals and provide evidence of these to tenants at the start of every new tenancy agreement. Tenants should be vigilant and insist that these standards are met for their own safety and well-being.
For more information on health hazards, please check our detailed guide – Health Hazards in Rented Properties
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 requires landlords to:
- Ensure all gas appliances are safe and in good working order
- Arrange for an annual safety check carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer
- Obtain a Gas Safety Certificate, valid for 12 months
- Keep a record of all safety checks and provide a copy of the certificate for you within 28 days of you taking on the tenancy
For more information on gas safety, please check our detailed guide – Gas Safety – Repair of Rented Properties
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 stipulates that:
Any electrical equipment (including wires, cables, leads) in a rented property should be safe and tested regularly by a “competent person”. The landlord needs to protect against electrical overloading by ensuring earthing and insulation is sufficient. All electrical appliances, such as washing machines, fridges, cookers etc., should be in good working order:
- All wiring should not be accessible and must be concealed
- All plugs should be fused and BS1363 compliant
- Fire-guards should be BS3248 compliant
- Fire extinguishers should be BS6575 compliant
For more information on electrical safety, please check our detailed guide – Electrical Safety – Repair of Rented Properties
Fire safety (furniture and furnishings) regulations 1988:
Fire safety provisions such as fire extinguishers and fire blankets for the kitchen are of paramount importance. Landlords are required by law to verify the safety of the furnishings. All new and secondhand furniture must meet these standards, unless made before 1950. Most fire-safe furniture and fittings will have a manufacturer’s label stating the fact.
For more information on fire safety, please check our detailed guide – Fire safety and furniture regulations – Repair of Rented Properties
You landlord is allowed to reclaim their property back from your if they do it in a reasonable fashion and properly follow the eviction procedures as required by the law.
To evict you, your landlord has to serve you with a Section 21 notice, which allows him to terminate your tenancy after two months of issuing the paper. The landlord is free from disclosing the reasons for your eviction, provided they act within the boundaries of the law. There are conditions that the landlord needs to clear to be allowed to use Section 21.
Alternatively, your landlord can initiate a faster procedure and obtain a court order for the possession of the property if you have breached the tenancy agreement. E.g. you’re into two months or more arrears with your landlord. The court order can be executed by the bailiffs of the local county.
Remember: Only bailiffs of the local county can forcefully remove you from the property.
For more information on evictions, please read our guides:
Where to go for help
The best way to know if your landlord is up to scratch is if you get information from their past tenants. Tenant reviews will provide you with a different point of view to the property than the one advertised by the landlord or letting agency. Ask Tenants is a website where current and ex tenants can rate and review their landlord and the properties they have lived in. Tenants prospecting for their new property, can tap into information left by past tenants and get to know details that the marketing brochure wants to hide.
Go check out if your property is what your landlord says it is on Ask Tenants!
If you’re already in a tenancy and want to know more about your rights, or your landlord’s responsibilities, please check out more of our tenant guides:
- The Tenancy Inventory Check
- Tenancy deposit protection schemes (TDP)
- Deposit deductions and disputes
- How to Request Repairs From Your Landlord
- Introduction to Evictions for Assured Shorthold Tenancies
This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.
We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our All advice category.
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