If you’re renting your property, then you have a legal duty to ensure that it’s in a condition fit for human habitation. Fail to do so, and you might find yourself on the sharp end of a series of housing disrepair claims. As well as the legal responsibility you have to keep the building in good order, there are also financial incentives for doing so: issues which aren’t fixed promptly can quickly deteriorate, becoming more costly to fix in the process. Moreover, you might find it trickier to attract quality tenants if you gain a reputation for being difficult to reach.
What’s the Landlord Responsible for?
The most important parts of a landlord’s duties are those which concern potentially dangerous utilities. Gas safety checks should be performed annually by Gas-Safe-registered engineers. The resulting certificate must be made available to your tenants. Similarly, electrical installations will need to be looked at by qualified engineers – though in this case, the requirement is a little less stringent: you need only get them in once every five years.
Fire is a threat that needs to be guarded against. Smoke detectors, heat and carbon-monoxide alarms should all be interconnected and regularly tested. Legionella assessments might also be conducted, especially if stagnant water is present. Keep a record of every test – it might be that you rely on them in court.
The Exterior Fabric
You’ll also need to worry about the structure of the building. This means the beams and girders that support everything, but it also means the ‘exterior fabric’, which comprises all of the bricks, mortar and roof-tiles which prevent wind and water from getting in. The Housing Health and Safety (England) Regulations 2005 list every hazard, so it’s worth acquainting yourself with it.
Things like changing light bulbs and mowing the lawn generally fall under the tenant’s responsibilities. You also can’t be held responsible for problem that you don’t know about. If the boiler breaks down and the tenant doesn’t tell you, then you can’t be held accountable – unless you’ve failed to properly maintain it.
What are the consequences if you don’t comply?
From March 2019, tenants have had additional powers to hold their landlords accountable for failures of this sort. Moreover, since 2018, it’s become possible for landlords who fail to take the required repairs to be punished in other ways. Section 21 notices might be made invalid in cases where repairs have not been carried out sufficiently promptly.