Landlords, or their managing or letting agents, have certain rights as well as responsibilities when it comes to their tenants, just as tenants have obligations to their landlords.
What are the legal rights of landlords?
As a landlord you have the right to increase rents, but only if you abide by certain rules, including not putting the rent up arbitrarily. In a periodic tenancy, landlords can increase the rent annually, in a fixed term tenancy landlords cannot increase the rent until the tenancy comes to an end/for renewal, unless the tenant agrees.
You have property access rights to access to the property for annual inspection or to carry out repairs, but you cannot visit unannounced. You must give the tenant notice if you want to attend the property for any reason, and the notice period is usually stipulated in the tenancy agreement, but it is customary to give 24 / 48 hours’ notice. The only exception to this rule is if you need to access your property in the event of a genuine emergency.
Landlords have the right to repossess the property at the end of a fixed-term tenancy. There are certain notice periods that must be adhered to, with the standard period being two months’ notice, but you should check your agreement to be certain. Landlords have the right to evict a tenant if they fall into arrears with their rent. Also, landlords have the right to sell it at any time and can evict on this basis, or for any other reason, however there are strict rules around evictions.
The exact eviction protocol depends on what type of tenancy agreement you have; We recommend landlords use assured shorthold tenancy agreements, either fixed-term for say 12 months, or periodic tenancies that roll over each month. You can use a Section 21 notice to evict a tenant at the end of a fixed-term tenancy, or use a Section 8 notice to evict a tenant if they breach their tenancy agreement, for example, by failing to pay rent.
If the tenants refuse to leave by the date on the eviction notice, you will need to apply for a standard possession order through the courts. Use an accelerated possession order if rent arrears are not the reason for the eviction.
Both landlord and tenant rights are governed by the Landlord and Tenant Act . For further information on any of the above points above, contact us, or familiarise yourself with the full legislation here, especially regarding evicting a tenant.
What are the legal responsibilities as a landlord?
As well as the legal rights, there are also some legal responsibilities that landlords need to keep in mind, including:
Make sure their tenants are safe and healthy by keeping the property in a good state of repair. If a tenant asks for repairs to be made, the landlord must make them within a reasonable time.
A landlord has to deal with any complaints from tenants about damp, leaks and mould in their home. They must also follow the process set out in the tenancy agreement if they are returning a deposit to a tenant or have issues with the tenant not paying rent on time or owed rent.
Landlords must carry out regular safety checks on gas appliances, electrical supplies and all other safety equipment or fittings in the property, and issue the relevant paperwork e.g., gas safety certificates. They should also make sure that any furniture provided by their letting agent is fire resistant.
Landlords must not discriminate against a tenant by refusing to rent a property because of their race, gender, sexuality, disability, religion or any other reason. Landlords must not harass or illegally evict a tenant.
Landlords must follow the rules set out in the tenancy agreement and must not try to avoid their responsibilities by asking the tenant to sign an agreement that is unfair or unreasonable.
Tenants have responsibilities to their landlords too, including being expected to occupy the property in a ‘tenant-like’ manner. Read full details here.
There is a lot to think about when letting out a property, and not surprisingly, many landlords decide to use us as their letting agent to avoid any issues due to our wealth of experience in this area. In the Landlords Tips section of our website you can find information on property inspections, handling end of tenancy, how to handle tenancy disputes and much more.