Carry On, Landlord

04 December 2012 Categories: News

Carry On, Landlord

Landlords of residential lettings are under certain obligations to effectively manage their rental properties. Whether the tenancy term is weekly, monthly or fixed term (providing that the term does not exceed seven years), certain aspects of the rental are fully the landlord’s responsibility.

These include the physical state of the premises and a duty to repair serious defects.

A landlord is required to keep the premises rented to tenants in a certain condition. If there is a statutory nuisance or the premises are prejudicial to health, the local authority can serve notice or an application may be made to the Magistrate’s Court. “Prejudicial Health” is defined to mean “Injurious, or likely to cause injury to health”, this is can include anything from damp caused by condensation to serious structural issues. To proceed with an application for the Magistrates Court, an individual from a neighbouring property must give at least twenty one days written notice to the landlord before applying to the court. The landlord, if convicted under this provision, may be forced to pay the tenant compensation for damage, loss or personal injury. In any areas where the landlord retains control, they owe a common duty of care to visitors.

If tenants/visitors are injured or die as a result of the landlord’s negligence, the landlord may be held liable. The “Defective Premises Act” states obligations where a dwelling is provided, essentially, there is a civil liability to pay damages where a tenant or resident is injured on the part of the landlord.

During the tenancy period, the landlord deprives themselves of the right to possession of the premises, if they enter the property without the permission of the tenant; they are considered to be trespassing. The landlord does retain the right to enter to repair or carry out any maintenance or repairs and must provide the tenant with sufficient notice of their intention to enter and give basic information about the extent of work to be carried out. If a landlord has not completed an obligatory repair, where the defect was know or should have been investigated they may be liable for negligence under the “Defective Premises Act 1972”.

In common law, there are two common duties that are imposed upon landlords. The property must be fit for human habitation and there are certain obligations which relate to other property that is under the landlord’s control but not let under the tenancy. The landlord is obliged to keep the premises in a certain physical condition; They must be sure to keep the dwellings in a sufficient order, eliminate any unsanitary conditions and strive to improve individual properties and the neighbourhood itself. If a defect is found and raised to the landlord (this does not need to be via a written notification) the landlord must ensure that any work carried out is done so in a professional manner with the proper materials. The landlord must ensure that the property is fit for human habitation once the work has been completed.

Providing that the tenancy does not exceed seven years, the “Landlord and Tenant Act 1985” states that the landlord’s duty is to keep in repair the structure as well as the exterior of the property, this includes drains, external pipes and gutters. The supply of water, gas and electricity must be facilitated and the installations for sanitation e.g. basins, sinks, showers must be in proper working order and be kept in good repair as well as the installations for space heating and heating water.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) have further statutory duties in regards to repairing the dwelling and keeping the premises safe. The Housing (Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Regulations 1990 defines these duties such as safety measures including exit signs and fire fighting equipment. These regulations apply both to managers and residents of HMOs and either party may be prosecuted if they are found to be in breach of the duty to maintain the property in a safe state.

With these responsibilities in mind it is advisable for all landlords to carry out regular maintenance visits and to encourage tenants to report any issues as soon as they arise. Should landlords employ a managing agent they ought to ask for regular reports of any maintenance issues to ensure they are kept up to date with any works which may need to be carried out.

Article kindly written and provided by Urban Sales and Lettings nationwide Online estate agents