Residential landlords are required to resolve a range of safety and maintenance issues. From keeping the property in a good state to ensuring it’s free of hazards, you must know your legal requirements. Good upkeep of your property can be just as important as the right landlord insurance, to protect you when things go wrong.
But, in some cases, your tenants are required to solve matters themselves, especially if they’re the ones in the wrong. This could be solving the issue themselves, or at least covering the financial cost to ensure you’re not out of pocket.
In this article, we’ll go through what you need to know about your safety and maintenance requirements as a residential landlord in the UK.
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What are landlords required to fix and maintain?
Landlords are required to fix and maintain lots of areas in a property. From ensuring structural integrity to simply providing a clean environment, you have many legal requirements.
While maintenance and keeping your property proper is an essential part of being a landlord, it’s just as important to take out a form of landlord insurance, to protect your property and its appliances from damage by unruly tenants.
Are landlords required to clean between tenants?
Tenants are typically responsible for cleaning before their tenancy ends to leave the property in the same state as they found it. This means if tenants leave the property in an unreasonable state, you could claim back the costs for hiring a cleaning agency.
However, you should only expect a tenant to leave their property in the same state as they found it, while also allowing for fair wear and tear to occur.
For example, if the carpets were noted by the tenant to be unclean at the start of the tenancy, you should expect carpets to be left in the very same condition. At the same time, if a bathroom was clean upon a tenant moving in, it’s right that you expect it to be left in the same condition.
Can a landlord require professional carpet cleaning?
Landlords can require professional carpet cleaning so long as the tenant left the property carpet in an unclean state. This also means that if a carpet is unclean due to a tenant’s actions, even during the tenancy, they can be liable for paying for professional services to clean the carpet.
For instance, let's say that during a visit to the property during a tenancy period you notice the carpet is exceptionally dirty. This wasn’t noted by the tenant at the start of the tenancy, and therefore it’s likely a result of the tenant’s actions. Or if a tenant has already left, you could take the cost from their initial deposit.
However, if the carpet was noted by the tenant that it is dirty at the start of the tenancy, such as in an inventory, then technically they cannot be billed. It’s the tenant’s responsibility to leave the property as they found it.
Are landlords required to provide blinds?
Landlords are not required to provide blinds or curtains in properties. Despite this, you may be expected to provide them if your property is advertised as furnished. You should therefore stipulate in your tenancy agreement or inventory what you will provide.
If you do provide blinds, you should ensure it is hazard-free to ensure the health and safety of your tenants. For example, ensuring the chain or cord is out of reach for babies or young children, as well as making sure the fixture is sound. The British Blind & Shutter Association provides information on keeping blinds safe for tenants.
How often is a landlord required to paint?
There is no definitive timescale that requires you to paint your property, however, most landlords will choose to redecorate every three to five years or so. This is to maintain the property’s good order, as well as maintain or increase its value - after all, tenants are unlikely to pay for a property that’s falling apart.
If painting or redecorating occurs, it’s almost always the landlord’s responsibility to undertake the work. However, if the reason for redecorating is that the tenant has caused damages, then they can be billed through withholding part of their deposit to cover the costs.
If redecoration is required because of wear and tear, then you are required to redecorate and paint, bearing the cost for yourself. You cannot force tenants to pay for wear and tear.
Are landlords required to provide heat and hot water?
The law states that you’re legally required to provide central heating systems and other heat sources such as radiators, as well as water boilers and methods to heat hot water. This includes maintaining these systems to ensure a safe environment for your tenants to live.
The lack of these facilities is considered a hazard, creating an unsafe living environment that is not suitable for human habitation, something that The Housing and Tenant Act requires. Stagnant cold water could cause a build-up of Legionella bacteria for example, and lack of heating when temperatures plummet pose a very clear problem.
If a tenant alerts you about a problem with the systems, you should work fast to try to fix the problem. Major repairs and work are always your responsibility. However, if the damage has been caused explicitly by the tenant, then they could be billed to cover the costs of any works required.
Landlord safety requirements
Aside from general maintenance, as a residential landlord, you’re required to ensure the safety of your tenants by providing a home that’s fit for human habitation. This means the property must be free from hazards.
Some of your legal safety responsibilities include providing a pest-free environment and a safe property, such as providing an electrical safety certificate. You can find out more about your responsibilities as a landlord in our helpful guide. Below, we’ll go through some common FAQs about your safety requirements as a landlord.
Is PAT testing a legal requirement for landlords?
PAT testing or Portable Appliance Testing is not a legal requirement in England and Wales, but it’s legally required by landlords in Scotland. This is under The Housing Act (Scotland) 2014. It may also be required by local authorities, so you may want to check with your council.
A PAT test is an inspection of an electrical appliance to ensure they’re safe to use, helping prevent any issues as a result of unsafe equipment you provide. Although you can find lots of common faults just via a visual inspection, like looking for damaged or exposed wiring, some potentially dangerous faults are only found through a PAT test.
Although landlords aren’t legally required to do it in most parts of the UK, it’s still part of best practice. After all, the last thing you want is for something to happen to your tenants or your property as the result of a faulty appliance.
Is a legionella risk assessment a legal requirement for landlords?
As a landlord, you’re legally required to provide a Legionella risk-free environment to ensure the health and safety of your tenants. However, you’re not required to conduct a detailed legionella risk assessment.
For private residential landlords, the risk is typically considered very low due to regular water usage. This means daily water usage will be enough to turn over the whole system and prevent the build-up of any bacteria like Legionella.
Landlords should undertake simple risk assessments though. This can include noting whether water is drawn from the main supply rather than stored water tanks, if the daily water usage is sufficient to turn over the entire system, or whether hot water is stored at over 60c.
Simple ways of controlling the possible build-up of Legionella bacteria include keeping the hot water hot, cold water cold, and ensuring it keeps moving. If you have long periods of inactivity between tenancies, it could be a good idea to flush out the system before a new tenant moves in. Combi boilers and electric showers are other good ways to lower the risk as there is no water storage.
You can find out more information on what you need to know regarding Legionella as a landlord, from the Health and Safety Executive.
What is the lowest temperature a landlord is required to provide?
Landlords are required to provide adequate heating in a rented home, which includes central heating or another form of heating such as radiators in the occupied rooms of the house. It is a legal requirement to maintain the supply of hot water and provide the facilities for heating.
In fact, you’re legally required to be able to heat parts of the property to minimum temperatures. When the temperature outside plummets to minus 1°C, any bedrooms must have the ability to be heated to a minimum of 18°C. Living rooms must be heatable to a minimum of 21°C.
Therefore, if a tenant of yours notifies you about a heating issue, it’s a good idea to act quickly and get it fixed to avoid any legal problems. The lack of heating or keeping any essential items such as boilers in a state of disrepair affects your tenants’ health and safety and does not constitute a property that is “fit for human habitation” which The Act requires.
Are landlords required to install carbon monoxide detectors
Carbon monoxide alarms are the landlord’s responsibility and are required in a property and in any room that contains a solid fuel-burning appliance. For example, a coal-powered stove or a wood-fueled fireplace.
Although, gas appliances can also emit carbon monoxide. To be safe and protect your tenants, it’s best to be safe and ensure there are also alarms in these rooms which use gas, too.
Like fire alarms, you are responsible for testing the carbon monoxide alarms at the start of every new tenancy. However, after that point, it’s the responsibility of the tenant to check the alarms are in working order. This includes general testing and organising the replacement of batteries or the alarm itself.
If a carbon monoxide detector needs to be installed at your property, it should be positioned at head height, such as on a wall or shelf, around 1-3 metres away from a potential carbon monoxide source.
Failure to provide working carbon monoxide detectors as well as smoke detectors can invalidate any landlord insurance policies you have, leaving you unprotected.
Are landlords required to provide smoke detectors?
It’s a legal requirement to provide smoke detectors for your properties to meet fire safety standards. This is to ensure you maintain a safe environment for tenants, and smoke detectors are just one of your fire safety requirements as a landlord.
You should provide smoke detectors on each floor of the property, as well as a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance such as a wood-burning stove. More specific guidance on smoke detectors can be found in The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.
You should ensure smoke alarms are working at the start of each new tenancy. After that point, it’s the tenants’ responsibility to undergo regular testing. Although given the risk to the tenants and your property, it may be a good idea to test this yourself regardless.
Failure to comply with your legal fire safety requirements and not provide adequate smoke detectors can leave you with a fine of £5,000 by your local authority.
Are landlords required to provide fire extinguishers?
Landlords are required to provide fire extinguishers in houses in multiple occupations, also known as HMOs. You have extra-legal requirements for HMOs, including providing equipment such as fire extinguishers on every floor, fire blankets (including in the kitchen) and also specific fire alarms requirements.
If you do not run an HMO, then you don’t legally need to provide fire extinguishers. However, given the threat to your tenants and property investment, it’s a good idea to go above and beyond the minimum requirements to ensure the property is as safe as possible.
For residential landlords, you have lots of requirements when it comes to the safety of your tenants and maintaining your property. From providing a home fit for human habitation and keeping in good order, to ensuring a home free from hazards, there’s quite a lot to know.
But like we just mentioned, the golden rule if you’re unsure is to provide a property free from hazards that is safe for tenants to live. If you’re unclear, check The Landlord and Tenant Act, as well as with your local authority.
But these requirements don’t mean you should be out of pocket. The best way to protect yourself is to specify in the tenancy agreement what each party is responsible for, as well as take out the right landlord insurance to help avoid damage and costs from unruly tenants.