Abide by this law to keep your reputation intact
In our series of articles about the rules for the buy-to-let landlord to evict nightmare tenants, I wrote about the help the law gives when you need to carry out an eviction. The law also bestows you with certain landlord obligations. For example, if you don’t ensure an adequate water supply, then you could find yourself in hot water in the courts.
Here I detail your obligations as a landlord. If you make sure you stick to these, you should have a great relationship with your tenant.
What does Section 11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 do?
This piece of law sets out the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant and applies to all tenancies of less than seven years’ duration. I’ll cover what this law means to your tenant in another post. For you as the landlord, it means that you must keep:
- The exterior in a good state of repair;
- The structure sound;
- All utilities in working order; and
- Heating and hot water in good condition.
These obligations last throughout the tenancy, and if you make sure you stick to them you should have a long and fruitful relationship with any tenant. People want to rent from landlords they can trust. Unfortunately, there are plenty of nightmare landlords out there who give the industry a bad name. However, this provides you with a great opportunity: a good landlord with a right property will be able to charge the highest rents.
Landlord obligations outside
To the exterior of your property, you’ll need to make sure that any structural repairs are made in a timely and effective fashion. For example, if a garden wall falls, you’ll need to have it repaired or replaced. Other areas of possible damage to the structure and exterior that should be on your property inspection checklist include:
- Gutters and external drainage and water pipes
- The roof
- Windows and doors
If any damage to the exterior of the property has caused damage indoors, then this will also be your responsibility to repair.
Landlord obligations inside
On the inside of the property, you are responsible for the good repair and working order of:
- Supply of water
- Space heating and water heating
This includes all the ‘hardware’ that goes with all of the above, including:
- Water tanks
- Electrical sockets and wiring
What you’re not responsible for
Of course, it would be madness to make a landlord in charge of every breakage, damage, and repair needed. This would only give a tenant carte blanche to treat your property poorly, and your repairing obligations would be almost without end. If the children are playing cricket in the garden and one scores a six by smashing the ball through the kitchen window, that’s hardly your fault.
As with all rules and laws, there are exceptions. The main ones under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 are that you’re not responsible for any damage that has been caused by the tenant if they have acted in an un-tenant like manner. In other words, the tenant is responsible for treating your property with respect.
You might also be relieved to hear that if the home has been damaged or destroyed by an act of God (fire, flood, tempest, or other ‘inevitable accident’), you won’t have to rebuild or repair.
The law also makes allowances for anything which you have specifically detailed as not your responsibility in the tenancy agreement – though you won’t get away with trying to negate all of the above obligations.
If you’re concerned by your landlord obligations, or you’ve got a delicate situation that you’re not sure how to handle, feel free to contact us by phone on on +44 1522 503 717 today for the information you need.
Brett Alegre-Wood MARLA MNAEA