If you’ve entered into a rental agreement, then you’ll have agreed to abide by a set of responsibilities. Many disputes between landlord and tenant stem from a failure to understand those responsibilities. If you want to save yourself considerable stress in the future, or if you’ve already been dragged into a dispute, then you’ll want to be sure that you know what you’re responsible for and what you aren’t.
The Responsibilities of the Landlord
Landlords owe a duty of care to their tenants. They need to ensure that the property is fit for human habitation. That means making sure that it’s structurally sound, that all of the doors and windows are securable, and that the property is free from vermin.
You have a duty to carry out any repair work to water, gas and electrical systems the moment you’re made aware of them – or, as soon as is reasonably practical. In practice, this means keeping the contact details of a few professionals to hand, to that they can be called upon when required.
Any deposit that you receive from the tenant will need to be securely protected. You can’t simply keep it in your current account. Enter into a deposit protection scheme, so that it can be rapidly reimbursed at the end of the tenancy.
Any furniture you provide should be fire-safe, and all of the fire alarms in the property should be tested prior to the commencement of a new tenancy. Once the tenant has moved in, it’s their job to do the testing; before that, its yours.
Finally, you should provide tenants with an EPC (that Energy Performance Certificate), which demonstrates that the property is as environmentally sound as you say it is, and how much they should expect to spend on heating.
The Responsibilities of the Tenant
The tenant must pay their rent on time each month. The best way to do this is through a direct debit payment. This applies even if you’re having a dispute with your landlord; if you withhold rent, then it’ll be held against you if the matter is escalated. The same applies to any payments for utilities, like gas and electricity, and for council tax.
If you intend to terminate the tenancy and move out, then you’ll need to give the right amount of notice. This should be stipulated in your agreement. If you decide to move out at short notice, then you’ll still be liable for the rent for the notice period.
It’s your job to look after the inside of the property. That means keeping on top of the cleaning and tidying, and paying for any damage caused by you (or any visitors) to be repaired. This might be covered by any tenant’s insurance you’ve taken out. You can have as many friends as you like over (usually), but you might find that subletting rooms is prohibited by your agreement.