Your rights and responsibilities as a landlord.
Becoming a landlord is a decision that puts you in a position of responsibility, and shirking these responsibilities can put you on shaky legal ground.
Equally, you are protected by some rights in the event that your tenant isn’t keeping up their side of the bargain. We’ve outlined both here.
You are responsible for property maintenance and safety
Your tenant has the right to live in a safe and secure home that’s well-maintained.
If they report a fault, it’s normally your responsibility to sort it out – you can’t delegate the task to them simply by offering to pay for it.
You must take responsibility for:
- Hot water supply (i.e. boiler).
- Electricity and/or gas supply.
- Sanitary installations (shower, toilet, etc.).
- Structural elements (walls, roof, windows and so on).
- Rising damp.
If you have provided any items like white goods or sofas and these need replacing through wear-and-tear or age, you should replace them as soon as possible. Any furnishings provided must be compliant with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) Safety Regulations 1998.
The only faults you aren’t responsible for solving are those that they’ve caused themselves, and damp caused by condensation. Condensation forms because of poor ventilation, and is resolved by opening windows to create a steady flow of fresh air.
You are responsible for protecting your tenant’s deposit
At the start of any new tenancy agreement, you are now required to place any deposit you’ve taken into a government-approved deposit protection scheme within 30 days.
You can’t simply put the money to one side.
You have the right of access (within reason)
You should outline in your tenancy agreement the rules regarding access to the property – be that for an inspection or otherwise. Typically, you should give at least 24 hours’ notice, and any access must be at a reasonable hour of the day.
Minimum notice can normally be waived in the event of an emergency or repairs, but this can be negotiated with the tenant. Typically, if something is wrong, they’ll want it repairing as soon as possible anyway.
However, your tenant equally has the right to live undisturbed – so if you do need access to the property, it must be for a good reason. You should never turn up at the property unannounced, or let yourself in when you think they’re out.
You have the right to evict a problem tenant
You can evict a tenant at any point by giving a Section 8 Notice and, if your tenant refuses to leave, by applying to a court for an eviction order. To be successful in your application, you’ll need to provide grounds for the eviction.
There are 17 different recognised grounds for eviction, including:
- Significant rent arrears and/or consistent late payment.
- Presenting a nuisance to neighbours or other tenants.
- The mortgage provider is repossessing the property.
- They’re using the property for illegal purposes (e.g. dealing drugs).
You can list more than one on the Section 8 Notice. Depending on the grounds you’ve given, the granting of the eviction order may be automatic, or at the discretion of the court. Sometimes, the court will only grant you possession if they think it’s reasonable to do so.
We’ve explained when and how to serve an eviction notice here.
You’re responsible for paying the mortgage, and tax on any profits
The last thing your tenant wants is a bailiff turning up at their home, being threatened with enforcement action because of you haven’t paid your bills. This is fundamental. If you’re ever having difficulty meeting your mortgage repayments on a buy-to-let property for any reason, speak to your mortgage provider as soon as possible.
If your rental income is more than £2,500 a year, you’ll need to register for a Self Assessment tax return and declare it. If you don’t, you can be pursued by HMRC for unpaid tax and potentially face prosecution.
It’s important to note the £2,500 limit is total income, not just profit – so even if you’re just breaking even after paying your mortgage and running costs, you still have to declare it and pay tax on it.
We’ve outlined your tenant’s rights and responsibilities here – and while there’s some overlap, you might benefit from reading that too.
Lending decisions are subject to an affordability/creditworthiness assessment.
Any property used as security, including your home, may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debt secured on it.