Landlords have certain obligations to their tenants. However, this does not mean all the responsibilities fall to landlords. In this guide, you will find information on what landlord obligations are and when the responsibilities fall to the tenant.
In this guide:
When a tenant is renting a property, it is generally up to them to pay for all utility bills and council tax. This is often stipulated clearly in a tenancy agreement.
Certain situations may arise in which the responsibility for bill payment falls to the landlord. In this section, you will find the difference between tenant and landlord obligations for bill payment.
It is up to you which bills your tenants are responsible for. You can stipulate which bills your tenant pays for in your tenancy agreement.
Common bills that tenants are responsible for are:
The general rule for bill responsibility is that it falls to the person whose name is registered on the bill. The best option is to ensure tenants names are registered to utility bills. This removes the responsibilities from the landlord to the tenant.
New tenants are not responsible for previous tenants’ unpaid bills.
Landlords are unlikely to be responsible for tenants’ unpaid council tax and utility bills if they follow these steps:
State clearly that utility bills are the tenants’ responsibility.
Tenancy agreements are like any other contract so once landlord and tenant have signed it becomes a legally binding contract. This will protect you if you come into any disputes or require proof.
Include the names and contact details of both the new tenants and previous tenants. This ensures the council can get in touch if necessary.
This includes gas, electricity and water. You may also provide any contract details for the tenants. This ensures the companies chase the tenants rather than you.
Even if your tenants look to change utility companies, they still need to pay the current energy supplier from the day they move in.
Do this at the start and end of each tenancy. This ensures you have a record for the utility companies, even if your tenant does not.
Landlords may find themselves paying for unpaid bills if there is outstanding debt and:
However, you may be able to prove the tenant lived in your property if you supply the tenancy agreement. It will be at the discretion and policies of the utility company to decide if they wish to chase the tenant or not.
The landlord is responsible for bills during void periods between tenants. It’s best to keep energy uses to a minimum during these times. Ensure no devices are left on and heating is not set on a regular timer.
During the winter season, you should have your heating on semi-regularly to avoid any mould or pipe freeze.
Bills-inclusive and non-inclusive
It is up to you to choose which bills you include in the rent agreement. An all-inclusive rent agreement can include:
Obviously, managing this can be a lot of work, and you will need to stay on top of payments and price changes. You will be solely responsible for payment of the bills and you will need to clearly state this in the tenancy agreement. You will also be responsible for any debt your tenant accrues—although you will be able to make a claim against the tenant’s deposit for any debt they haven’t paid.
If managing all the bills yourself sounds like a struggle, bill-splitting services like Split The Bills can help. They take responsibility for managing the bills. They have pre-agreed deals with service providers for all the major bills, so you don’t have to look for the best deals yourself. Services like Split The Bills will manage your entire portfolio of bills-inclusive properties, taking care of setting up services in the property and providing you with a consolidated bill each month. If you’d prefer to offer bills-inclusive to your tenants without the commitment, many bill splitting services like Split The Bills will also give you the option to refer your tenants directly to them and you can earn a commission for doing so. Bill-splitting services make it easier for both landlords and tenants:
If your tenancy agreement states the tenant is responsible for the council tax, it is up to them to contact the council. However, there are exemptions and times where it is up to the landlord to pay the council tax.
If your tenant is a student, they do not need to pay for council tax (and neither do you).
A property is exempt from council tax if all tenants are:
Take note that this stipulates all tenants. If some of your tenants are students and some are not, the non-students still need to pay council tax.
It’s not the direct responsibility of the landlord to contact the council. However, to save any issues further down the line, you may want to explain to your students the best way to contact the council and prove they are a student.
It is a simple 4-step process:
For more information about student bills and council tax, visit our student guide:
Types of student bills: what do students need to pay for?
Maintenance and repairs can be a tricky area for landlords. Where the responsibility lies depends on several factors. In this section, we will look at responsibility for maintenance and repairs.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 sets out the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant. Section 11 of the Act sets out who is responsible for repairing a property whilst it is being rented.
According to the act, the landlord responsibilities are as follows:
However, there are exceptions:
The terms in the landlord and tenant act can be confusing. The section below breaks these responsibilities down into easy-to-understand terms.
The landlord is responsible for keeping the property in good repair condition throughout the tenancy to meet the standard it was at the start of the rental agreement. However, it does not mean that the landlord has to make major changes to the property for the tenant.
The landlord is responsible for structural repairs including:
The landlord is not responsible for breakages caused by the tenant acting irresponsibly and not abiding by the agreement. A broken window or door caused by the tenant is not under the responsibility of the landlord to repair.
Tenants are responsible for the general maintenance of the rental property and any equipment, utilities or items supplies by the landlord.
The tenant is responsible for:
If the tenant causes any damage to the furniture or other items inside the property, the landlord may charge the tenant for any repairs or replacement required. If this is at the end of the tenancy, the landlord may be able to deduct the costs from the deposit.
If the tenant notices a required repair, it is their responsibility to report it. Landlords are not responsible for repairs until the tenant has reported it.
If the tenant caused the repairs, the landlords may charge for any costs incurred during repair/replacement.
Sufficient time must be given for the landlord to make the repairs. If the repairs are not made within a sensible timeframe, the tenant may be able to take the landlord to court. In this situation, it is best to seek legal advice.
Landlords are allowed to make inspections to ensure the tenant is keeping up their responsibilities for cleanliness and repairs. A minimum of 24 hours notice must be given.
Landlords should provide tenants with a full itinerary/inventory of appliances and items that their rental property is supplied with. This can include:
Providing a tenant with an itinerary/inventory ensures that the tenant understands these items are their responsibility. It is up to them to leave the property in the same standard as they left them.
The ‘fit for human habitation’ law came into effect in March 2019. The law was designed to ensure that all rented properties are safe and healthy. These responsibilities fall to the landlord.
Tenants have the right to rent a property that is safe, in a good state of repair and free from any hazards.
Some examples of what landlords need to ensure include:
Tenancy deposits (also known as a security deposit) are a standard part of a new tenancy. Landlords can ask for up to 5 weeks’ worth of rent to cover a standard deposit.
Security deposits are designed to cover:
The tenancy deposit scheme was introduced to help tenants safeguard their deposit. It ensures landlords abide by the law when potentially charging for repairs/arrears. Tenants should receive their tenancy deposit back provided they have met the terms of the tenancy agreement.
Deposit protection is a legal requirement.
Deposit protection isa relatively painless process for both tenant and landlord, provided that both follow the law.
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