Residential landlords and tenants
Landlords of residential properties are subject to specific obligations, which without the proper advice can be overlooked. The following is an overview of some areas a residential landlord should be familiar with, but advice should always be taken on specific issues.
Whilst there is no legal obligation to have a written tenancy agreement, it is always advisable to have one to ensure everyone knows their rights and responsibilities from the outset.
Although assured shorthold tenancies do not have to be for a fixed term, it is good practice if they are. If you don’t agree a fixed term the tenancy will continue until it is terminated by written notice, which must be in the required form.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme
If you take a security deposit, you must place it with one of the approved tenancy deposit schemes. You must provide details of the scheme to your tenant within 30 days. You can’t start the process to evict a tenant if you haven’t complied with these obligations and the courts can impose penalties of between 1 and 3 times the value of the deposit.
Information you must provide to your tenant
If asked by your tenant, you must provide basic written terms of the agreement within 28 days.
If you let property on a weekly tenancy, you must provide a rent book. It is a criminal offence not to.
Even if you use an agent to manage the property, the tenant must be given your name and address.
General landlord responsibilities
Irrespective of what the tenancy agreement says, the law requires you to maintain and repair the:
– structure and exterior of the property, including drains, gutters and external pipes
– water and gas pipes (including safety checks at least every 12 months) and electric wiring
– basins, sinks, baths and toilets
– fixed heaters (for example gas fires) and water heaters (but not gas or electric cookers).
It is imperative you keep a record of the date of your inspection, issues identified and what action was taken – your tenant has a right to request to see this.
What to do if you have a problem tenant
No matter how terrible your tenant you can’t evict them without a court order – if you do they could claim against you for unlawful eviction.
A strict procedure must be followed, including service of notices containing specific wording and if the tenant still refuses to leave, court proceedings. If you are considering taking this step you should take advice to ensure you get these important steps correct.
If you require any advice on this or any other property litigation or commercial law matter, please do not hesitate to contact our team of Sheffield lawyers.