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Landlords may be aware of the need to maintain the interiors of their properties but some are still not adhering to, or even aware of, recent changes in legislation which require them to consider outside areas that they may not even own.

Alterations to Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 mean that landlords have a legal obligation to keep the dwelling house’s exterior and structure in good repair, together with any other areas of a building deemed to be part of the landlord’s interest or estate; regardless as to whether they own the area or not.

Passing the buck to ‘superior’ landlords is no longer an option. The responsibility has been placed at all landlords’ doors to ensure liaisons occur to minimise risk to tenants by ensuring the highest possible levels of safety, whether they are inside their rented home or making their way in or out.

Indeed, landlords have an ever-increasing obligation to keep their tenants safe both inside and outside of their property. It is now essential for property owners to consider any hazardous defects with the potential to cause injury. These can include, but are not limited to, slipping and tripping risks.

The revisions to Section 11 imply that landlords must take responsibility for liaising with other landlords and those who hold responsibility for common areas with the aim of making sure that any defects are repaired promptly and that high safety levels are duly maintained.

The areas for which landlords have responsibility can be confusing but, in general terms, points of access to a rental property which include stairwells, parking areas, pathways or entrance areas, require consideration.

The changes to Section 11 were intended to clarify what has traditionally been a grey area for both landlords and tenants. For a long time, many landlords have refused to accept responsibility for repairs to exterior areas.

This is no longer possible, however, if the area in question is part of a direct access route into a property. Landlords who fail to realise this or neglect their legal responsibility, face the prospect of legal action if they do not carry out essential repairs, irrespective as to whether they actually own the affected areas.

The effects of these changes in legislation are not just important for landlords but also to letting agents, as increasingly-expectant property owners choose to employ professionals to take responsibility for ensuring both interior and exterior maintenance and repairs.