Landlords’ Responsibilities

Despite writing my weekly blog and always being on hand to answer peoples’ questions I still feel that there are many landlords and potential landlords out there who still are unsure of many of the most important issues that arise from being a professional landlord.  Hopefully I can address some of these here:

My gas safety certificate has run out, what do I do?

In short, get one – now.  Whatever you are doing, stop it and get a gas safety certificate.

My tenant is complaining about the loose carpet on the stairs, what shall I do, do I have to do anything?

The answer is no, until they trip over and break their neck, then you get sued.  In this situation (the loose carpet, not the broken neck), I would advise a landlord to use common sense.  If something looks dangerous or broken, then it usually is.  Make sure that there are no obvious health and safety hazards.

Tenants ask me, “I can’t seem to open or close my windows properly, does my landlord have to do anything?”

The answer, is yes, he does.  A landlord has a health and safety obligation to make sure that the house is serviceable and habitable. If someone doesn’t like the colour of the paint on the window frame, then tough, but if the window doesn’t open properly that is an entirely different, legal, health and safety issue.  The point I am trying to make is, if things get this far the law of tort comes into play.  This means that a landlord has to respond within a resaonable period of time and more importantly, act reasonably.

 Do I have to have a smoke alarm in the property that I am going to rent out?

Surprisingly enough, no you don’t. Whilst it is wise to have one and as an agent I would be more than a little concerned if a landlord refused to fit one in their property, the law does not state that a rented property has to be fitted with smoke alarms before it is leased to a third party.

What as a landlord am I legally required to repair for tenants?

Anything that involves their health and safety.  I have been rung by tenants complaining that two light bulbs have gone in their hallway.  Other than ‘oh dear’ I don’t have anything else to say as it is wholly their responsibility.  If on the other hand, the centre light is hanging from the ceiling with wires exposed, I would ensure that an electrician is sent round immediately.

If I have a problem as a tenant, do I ring the landlord or the letting agent?

If the property is managed, always contact the agent. If the property is handled by the landlord, then ring the landlord.  No matter what you think, if it is a managed property, going directly to the landlord and ignoring the agent, will not speed things up – usually it has the opposite effect.

Do I have to know the landlord’s contact details?

Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 it states that a landlord must provide an address where they can be contacted.  Please note, this does not have to be their residential home.  Even if you know where your landlord lives, but it is not the address that you have been given, don’t go round there.