Advice for Landlord: Responsibilities of Landlords & Tenants

The majority of landlords these days only own one or two properties but their responsibilities are no less than those of landlords who own many.

A 'Landlord' is a term that is centuries old and refers back to the times when land was owned by noble families whose workers tenanted cottages on their estates.

Today there are tens of thousands of landlords in Great Britain, the popularity of buying property to let having being fuelled in recent years by a combination of low interest rates and lenders offering 'buy to let' mortgages.

The majority of landlords these days only own one or two properties but their responsibilities are no less than those of landlords who own many.

General Requirements

There are currently few general legal requirements that need to be met when letting property in England and Wales. Most of these relate to property standards but landlords also need to be aware of other areas of legislation that can affect them and this information guide seeks to identify the main areas that apply.

Many local authorities already run voluntary registration schemes, but currently there is consultation by government on establishing a national registration scheme (or licensing) for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). This is likely only to apply to HMOs but the government is looking at widening the definition of these properties so it is possible that it may include some of those currently designated as 'shared houses' (e.g. student houses).

Despite the current lack of specific legislation affecting much of the private rented sector, successful landlords should aim to provide accommodation that is safe, clean, well managed and offers good value for money.

Responsibilities of Landlords & Tenants

What is the Landlord Responsible For?


Unless the tenancy has a fixed term of more than 7 years the landlord is responsible for repairs to:

• The structure and exterior of the property

• Baths, sinks, basins and other sanitary installations

• Heating and hot water installations

Safety of Gas and Electrical Appliances

A Landlord is required to ensure that the gas installation and appliances are maintained in good order and that an annual safety check is carried out by a CORGI qualified and registered engineer. He must keep a record of the safety checks and issue a tenant with a copy of the safety certificate either at the commencement of the tenancy, or within 28 days of the annual inspection.

He is not responsible for inspecting gas appliances which are owned by a tenant and which they can take away with them at the end of the tenancy.

A landlord should also ensure that any electrical appliances that he supplies such as cookers, toasters, washing machines and immersion heaters are safe to use, although he has no responsibility for those owned by the tenant.

Fire Safety of Furniture and Furnishings

A landlord must ensure that any furniture and furnishings that he supplies meet the fire resistance requirements in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988, unless he is letting his home on a temporary basis whilst for example, working away from home.

What is the Tenant Responsible for?

Council Tax

Tenants are normally responsible for paying their own Council Tax.

However if the house is in multiple occupation (many councils use the definition of a property which is constructed or adapted for occupation by individuals who do not form a single household, or who have separate tenancies, or who pay rent for only part of the property) then a landlord will be responsible for paying it. This can be recovered in the amount of rent collected however.

Water and Sewerage Charges

Tenants normally pay this charge if the accommodation is self-contained. This should be dealt with in the tenancy agreement. If the landlord pays it can be included in the rent.

Other bills

Responsibilities should be agreed between landlord and tenant and clearly stated in the tenancy agreement.

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