Landlord responsibilities - housing law

The housing team here at Stephensons specialise in advising tenants about the responsibilities and legal obligations their landlords have towards their tenants, as well as advising on any disputes should they arise. For independent legal advice regarding your landlord’s responsibilities to you, call us on 0203 816 9282 and speak to a member of our specialist housing law team.

Our housing law experts have a specialist quality mark from the Legal Aid Agency for housing cases, this means that we will often be able to provide assistance to you free of charge if you qualify for help under the legal aid scheme and are based in the North West of England.

If you are renting a property, your landlord has certain responsibilities and obligations to you that they must fulfil before, during and after your tenancy.

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Deposit protection

When you agree to a new tenancy on a property and you as the new tenant pay a deposit in order to secure this tenancy, your landlord has a responsibility to pay this deposit into a Government-backed deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receiving it from you.  

There are two types of deposit protection schemes available to landlords that will also protect your deposit; custodial schemes and insurance schemes. A custodial scheme will hold your deposit until the end of the tenancy, whereas an insurance scheme sees the landlord keep hold of the deposit, but pay an insurance premium in order to secure the deposit in case of dispute.

Unless there are certain disputes relating to property damage or unpaid bills, the landlord should repay the deposit in full to yourself when you leave the property.

Disruption to tenants

A landlord will need to visit now and then to perform inspections and see to repairs, however they should not turn up at the property unannounced. The landlord should give reasonable notice of their intention to visit the property and arrange a suitable time with you, the tenant, for this visit to take place.

Harassment of tenants

Disputes may arise between yourself and your landlord, but this does not mean that they should make life difficult for you. Your landlord, or anyone working on their behalf, should not enter the property without your permission, visit at unsuitable times, or restrict access to utilities such as water or electricity. This behaviour could be classed as harassment, in which case you, as the tenant, may be able to seek an injunction.

Property repairs

Certain problems with the exterior or structure of your rental property will be your landlord’s responsibility. This includes large-scale repair works to the roof, chimneys, walls, drains, or equipment supplying water, gas and electricity to the property. Some minor alterations, such as small DIY jobs, may fall on your shoulders.

Safety standards

Your landlord has a responsibility to ensure the property meets various safety standards in order to be deemed fit for occupation. They should have:

  • Valid gas safety certificates for all of the appliances
  • Furniture that meets fire safety standards
  • Electrical equipment that is certified as safe for use
  • Fire precautions and escape routes for buildings occupied by more than one household (known as Homes of Multiple Occupation)

Rent regulations

Your landlord should set out in the tenancy agreement how much the rent is, when it should be paid and the types of payment method that they accept (bank transfer, Direct Debit, cash, etc.) They cannot legally refuse a rent payment, if you try to pay it. Rent increases are only allowed in specific circumstances; again, these should be laid out in the tenancy agreement.

Departure of tenants

If your landlord wants you to leave the property, they must follow certain procedures, depending on the type of tenancy you have agreed, and their reasons for evicting you. This usually involves giving you some form of notice, and maybe obtaining a court order. Your landlord cannot force you out of your property without following the correct procedures; this is classed as an illegal eviction, which is a criminal offence. If this happens it is possible to get an injunction to get you back into your property.

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