Renting out a property is a considerable but rewarding commitment. When purchasing a property for someone else to live in, the best way to get the most out of your investment is to remember that it is a two-way transaction. While most landlord-tenant relationships are amiable, understanding your responsibility and rights as a landlord before you rent out your property for the first time will help you set a strong foundation from the start.
When faced with a property issue, most tenants turn to Google first to find out how to approach the situation with their landlord. When your tenants come to you with a problem, it’s best to know how far your responsibilities go and when they need to find a solution for the problem themselves. For this reason, we’ve answered some of Google’s most popular questions about landlords and tenants to help you get started before you rent out your first property.
Are landlords responsible for soundproofing?
If your property is the site of the complaint, for instance if a flat below yours is complaining about excess noise, you might be responsible for dealing with this issue. To avoid this, consider the ways in which you can prevent noise complaints to begin with. If you are renting to a family with children, it might be more cost-effective to fit carpets in the main rooms than have to add additional soundproofing/insulation after noise complaints.
If your tenant is complaining about excess noise, be it from either side, above or in the area, it isn’t your immediate responsibility to manage the noise but helping your tenant can keep your relationship on good terms. You may want to contact the other tenants or landlords of the property this is the site of the complaint to see if they are willing to deal with the problem. Failing this, you can also help tenants raise a complaint to the local authority to deal with the situation.
It’s in your interest to encourage a positive and comfortable environment for your tenants to live in so dealing with their noise complaints or complaints against them will help with this in the long run.
Are landlords responsible for pest control?
The responsibility for dealing with pests will depend on a number of factors. For instance, a landlord is generally responsible for dealing with pests where it’s evident that pests have entered the property because of a structural issue or where your contract states that the landlord is responsible for all habitability issues around pests.
However, if it can be proven that pests are present because of something the tenant has done, for example, leaving food open, it will be the responsibility of the tenant to deal with or pay for pest control.
If it’s unclear whose responsibility it is, it generally falls to the tenant to deal with. Although, this may cause issues with your tenant and may irreparably damage your relationship. Your responsibility as a landlord is to provide comfortable, habitable housing, so it may be more beneficial to deal with pest problems even when the responsibility is mainly on the tenant.
Are landlords responsible for lightbulbs?
Typically, tenants are responsible for minor repairs such as changing light bulbs. A landlord would be responsible if there was a fault with the wiring, as well as conducting regular electrical safety inspections.
Are landlords responsible for mould?
It is the duty of the landlord to ensure a home is free of damp and mould as part of the requirement to provide a habitable living space. To deal with mould problems, you may need to ensure proper ventilation is possible in the property or provide materials to help reduce condensation in the affected areas.
Rising damp caused by structural issues may be costly to remedy but will be essential to providing an attractive place to live both for your current tenants and any others in the future.
However, damp caused by condensation, such as through dry clothes or poor ventilation in bathrooms may be the responsibility of the tenant. If your interim property inspections reveal an issue with mould which is the result of the tenant’s behaviour, you may need to have a conversation about ways they can remedy the problem to best protect the quality of your property.
As living with mould can endanger a tenant’s health, it’s vital that these problems are dealt with in a timely manner and in a way that avoids damaging the relationship between tenant and landlord.
Are landlords responsible for replacing carpet?
Landlords are responsible for the cost to replace carpet when the carpet has been subject to general wear and tear. Tenants may be responsible if it can be proven that damage caused by them is the reason the carpet needs to be replaced.
When it comes to replacing carpets, the inventory will be essential in determining standard wear and tear and tenant intervention. With obvious issues such as iron burns or stains, inventory pictures will show that these problems were caused by the tenant. Taking accurate photographs before tenants check-in ensures your investment is protected and shows the tenant what condition they need to leave the property in when they move out.
Are landlords responsible for replacing a refrigerator?
While there is no statutory requirement for landlords to repair or even provide white goods, there may be contractual expectations to provide repairs if the landlord has provided items like a fridge or washing machine.
Tenants also should not be held accountable to standard wear and tear on white goods and it’s generally a good idea to cover these costs to keep your tenants and happy and their living environment habitable.
If interference by a tenant has caused damage to the refrigeration, they will most likely be obliged to pay for the repairs. This may be hard to determine and accusations can cause unnecessary problems so scheduling a review before any work is carried out could be a good way of avoiding disputes.
Does the landlord or tenant pay council tax?
In most cases, the tenant is responsible for paying council tax as most tenants live in properties not also occupied by their owners. However, if you are a landlord who lives in the property and rents out a part to others, the responsibility of council tax will fall to you.
There may be other examples where the landlord is responsible for council tax, for example in a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) even when the landlord isn’t an occupant, or where you have agreed with the tenant that the council tax will be included in the rental contract. In these instances, you will likely have already adjusted the cost to each inhabitant to cover the cost of the tax.
Does the landlord or tenant pay for broadband?
In most cases, the tenant will be responsible for arranging and paying for the utilities, including broadband. Some landlords may choose to include utilities in the rental cost to attract tenants, in which case, you as the landlord will be responsible for paying for the broadband.
Can landlords refuse pets?
A new standard tenancy agreement drawn up by the government in 2021 means that consent for pets is now the default position on all rental contracts. This doesn’t mean that allowing pets is mandatory, though, and landlords are able to object within 28 days of a pet request by a tenant.
If you feel your property isn’t big enough or there are other issues with keeping a pet in the property, you will be able to submit this in writing to deny the tenant to rent with a pet.
If you agree to tenants renting with pets, you may also want to consider other measures to protect your property and defend against additional wear and tear, such as a higher deposit or an extra charge included in the rent. This can be agreed at the beginning of the tenancy or if the tenant submits a pet request during their tenancy.
How do landlords check tenant credit?
As a landlord, you’ll want to make sure that your investment is covered by the rental income from your tenants during their entire time in your property. To do this, credit checks to review income, credit history and other references can paint a picture of a prospective tenant’s reliability.
Credit checks may be carried out by your estate agent if you have instructed them to do so. You may also use an independent service to review your tenants. These services are offered by financial institutions and lenders.
It’s advised that you use a professional service to conduct credit checks as this will protect you from loss of income in the future and ensures you have an established reference for their financial ability should they be unwilling or unable to pay rent in the future.
What does landlord insurance cover?
What is covered in landlord insurance will depend on the policy you have purchased and can cover many things, including contents insurance, loss of rent and insurance against fire or flood.
Your insurance will also be dependent on the property you own. For example, the building insurance for a flat is usually covered by the building owners, so you will only need to cover contents and any other policies you wish to include.
What questions should a landlord ask a prospective tenant?
Questions to ask prospective tenants will vary depending on your personal preference, as well as the property type and the area. Some common questions you might want to keep in mind that can help paint a picture of a tenant’s character include:
- Why are you moving?
- What is your relationship like with your landlord/management company?
- Do you have any pets?
- Who is going to be living in the property?
- Are any of the prospective tenants smokers?
While the answers to these questions may not be enough to encourage you to accept or deny a tenancy, they will give you an understanding of the applicant and help you plan out how to manage the property during the renting period. For example, if your tenants are smokers, you may want to arrange more regular interim checks to confirm they aren’t smoking inside the house.
During the tenancy
How much notice does a landlord have to give before an inspection?
You should give tenants at least 24 hours notice before someone will be attending the property and agree a time that is convenient for all inhabitants to best ensure a positive relationship. This should be the case for inspections, repairs and any other visits you or another party needs to make.
It’s important to remember that your property is your tenant’s living space and respecting their privacy will be beneficial to both you and them in the long run.
Can landlords enter property without notice?
As the rental agreement establishes that the tenant is paying you for the exclusive use of the property as their living space, it is actually trespassing to enter the property without their consent. As previously mentioned, you should aim to give your tenants at least 24 hours notice of any visit to the property.
This is not usually the case in the event of an emergency, for example a burst pipe, a flood or a fire, but in all other cases it’s imperative that you respect your tenant’s privacy during the time they live in your property.
Should tenants be allowed to redecorate the property?
This is something that you will need to discuss with your tenants before they move in and during their tenancy. The rental agreement will often specify requirements in regards to decoration, such as tenants being unable to put hooks or nails in the walls, but allowing tenants to decorate a property can have its benefits.
Tenants who invest money into the property they’re staying through painting, hanging wallpaper or hanging pictures are more likely to stay put for longer to get the full benefit of their work. With long-term tenants, property owners don’t have to spend time and money sourcing new tenants regularly so allowing your tenants more freedom with their living space can actually be financially beneficial.
If you allow your tenants to decorate the property, it’s a good idea to establish ground rules and requirements. For example, it may be that they agree to redecorate when they leave to avoid discouraging new tenants who view the property or you may want to require them to deal with holes and stains left by fixtures and blue tack.
What happens if I can’t afford landlord repairs?
Property repairs can be a costly problem. Whether it’s a leak, a structural issue or a faulty boiler, the bill for calling out a contractor is sometimes more than you as a landlord can afford.
It’s in the interest of you and your tenant to fix issues as soon as possible, so establishing a savings fund in case of emergencies is a good idea for any new landlord. You may also want to consider additional insurance like boiler cover to avoid costly bills before tenants move in.
The good news is that it’s illegal for tenants to withhold rent in the event repairs aren’t completed, but getting to this stage could result in irreparable harm to your relationship with your tenants. In addition, it’s your obligation as a landlord to provide a habitable living environment so dragging your feet on things like the boiler can be in opposition to this obligation.
If you don’t have the money to complete repairs, you may be able to negotiate with your tenants to have them cover the costs. However, this may mean that the money is deducted from their rent in the future so it’s in your best interest to co-operate and handle the repairs yourself.
The end of a tenancy
How much notice does a landlord have to give for an eviction?
The most typical method of eviction is by issuing a Section 21 notice. When issuing a Section 21 notice, you need to provide two months’ notice before the intended eviction date. With a Section 21, you don’t need to specify the reason for the eviction but this can only be issued to those on a rolling periodic tenancy or a fixed-term tenancy with a break clause.
For other tenancies, a Section 8 notice may be issued with two weeks notice if you can prove antisocial behaviour or the tenant is in six months’ rent arrears. For other reasons for eviction, you may need to review the requirements set out by the government, but it is typically up to two months’ notice.
Can landlords increase rent at any time?
You can only change the rent you charge tenants at specific time or through specific clauses in the contract. For example, with a fixed-term one-year tenancy, you may be able to review the rent once the year has ended and renegotiate with your tenants before they agree to a new term.
If your rental agreement has a rent review clause, you will be able to review the rental costs at designated times during the tenancy. The contract must state how and when this will be done before the tenant agrees to it.
Generally, for a one-year tenancy agreement, you’ll need to give six months notice before increasing rent.
Can landlords change locks?
It is illegal to change the locks on a property without giving notice to your tenants. You have agreed to rent the property to your tenants and provide them with the right to privacy. In the same way as you are not allowed to enter the property without their consent, you are not allowed to change the locks on them without notice.
If you are in the process of evicting your tenants, you are still unable to change the locks until they have officially left the property. In the event of bailiffs being brought in to evict your tenants
When should I deduct from the deposit?
One of the main reasons you’ll need to deduct from a tenant’s deposit when they leave the property is for damage to the property. This can include carpets, furniture and walls. This is where an inventory and regular inspections will be essential in mediation and protecting your assets.
A thorough inventory on check-in will ensure tenants know what condition you expect the property to be left in and also provide a record for the condition of the property before the current tenants move in. If any damage is caused to the flat during the tenancy, interim inspections will help identify them before the tenancy is over and help establish whether they are the result of wear and tear or the responsibility of the tenant.
When it comes to check-out, another inspection will help classify the final condition of the property and give you an accurate comparison of the treatment of the property by the tenants. If the property is damaged or soiled in any way, you will reasonably be able to deduct from the deposit to recover the costs of replacing or fixing the issues. Deductions from the deposit can be disputed by tenants, which is why a thorough inventory is essential in proving your case for why you should be compensated from the deposit.
Becoming a landlord is an investment of time and money so being prepared to deal with tenants respectfully and legally can help you save on both while protecting your assets in the long term. It’s always important to remember that the relationship between landlord and tenants is a two-way street and, as long as both parties act with each other’s interests in mind, you should find great benefit in your landlordship.