Tenants and owners obligations

The highly regulated nature of the modern buy to let property marketplace has created numerous obligations and rights for tenants and owners which are legally enforced with varying degrees of success. So let Rocket Lawyer walk you through the main responsibilities.

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Tenants’ obligations

The tenancy agreement contains what the tenant can and cannot do at the property.  

Whilst the landlord is responsible for the structure and exterior of the property, the tenant must keep the property clean.

Other general tenant responsibilities include: paying the rent, paying all utility bills and sometimes council tax and water rates, keeping the interior in good repair, not to sub-let the property, allowing the landlord to carry out periodic checks to inspect the property, fixing any breakages, not damaging the property, ensuring that any guests are well behaved.

On a practical point, at the start of the letting, make sure the tenant understands what repairs and decoration (if any) they are required to carry out under the agreement to avoid any confusion.

Landlords’ obligations

The main obligations for you as landlord are: quiet enjoyment (this means that the tenant can enjoy the complete benefit of the property without the landlord adversely affecting that enjoyment), insurance (you must insure the property), repair (you must keep the structure and exterior including gutters, drains and pipes maintained and repaired).

As landlord, you are liable under different legislation for gas safety, furniture safety, fire safety, environmental health and liabilities under common and civil law.

Your tenants are entitled to a safe and secure home and you must endeavour to do everything possible to ensure their property is safe.

For further information read Legal obligations of a landlord.

Maintaining a good relationship

Treat all tenants equally and with respect.

Maintain a business-like relationship and be organised and committed about your responsibilities under the letting agreement.

Start a good landlord and tenant relationship from the beginning.  Some practical steps you should consider include the following.

Maintenance

All properties will require maintenance over the years; deal with decorating and minor jobs on a regular basis.

Local tradesmen

Keep up relationships with local tradesmen so that they can be on hand on short notice.

Appliances

Consider getting appliances insured against breaking down.

Welcome pack - provide the tenant with house rules so that they are aware of what is expected of them to avoid any problems later on in the tenancy.

Who is responsible for repairs and improvements?

The landlord is responsible for most repairs to a rented property. Examples of repairs include fixing a broken boiler, sealing broken windows or anything that would make the property habitable (ie liveable). The landlord is also responsible for repairs to common parts, such as communal stairwells. If the tenant paid for the repairs using their own money, they can reclaim these back from the landlord. To reclaim the money the tenant will need to submit receipts and all the evidence around what it was that was repaired, why it needed repairing, and a breakdown of all the costs.

The landlord is usually not responsible for any improvements to the property, for example, replacing kitchen units with new ones and redecorating or insulating a loft. The costs of any improvements will be the responsibility of the tenant. When the tenancy ends, it's unlikely that a tenant can remove improvements that are fixed (such as new kitchen units or paint). Therefore, if the duration of the tenancy agreement is not for an extended or long period, it may not make sense for the tenant to make improvements to the property.

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Create your Tenancy agreement

Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest