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Important Legal obligations & responsibilities for Landlords

  • Part 1 - Marketing and commencing to let out a property
  • Part 2 - Tenants rights & wrongs

Part 1 - Marketing and commencing to let out a property.

Landlord registration

The latest of the legal requirements in the private renting sector (Legislation as of February 2014) States that all landlords who rent property under a private tenancy must now be registered and provide accurate and up to date information about yourself and your property. For further information go to NI direct landlord registration.

Tenant deposit protection

Any deposit taken on or after 1st April 2013 must be registered with an authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme administrator. then you are required to protect the deposit within 14 calendar days of receiving it using either an insurance or custodial based protection scheme. You must also provide certain information about which Tenancy Deposit Scheme is protecting it and you must serve this on your tenants within 28 calendar days of receiving the deposit - this is called "Prescribed Information".

There are three organisations set up to administer these schemes in Northern Ireland are:

Energy performance certificate

As of December 2008 it became a requirement that all properties on the market for sale or to let must have available a valid Energy performance certificate (EPC). An energy performance certificate contains information about how energy is used in a, along with details of how much the energy used actually costs. An EPC is carried out by a accredited domestic energy assessor and should be available to the public to check on the energy performance certificate register. www.epcregister.com

Gas safety

Under current gas safety legislation landlords have three main areas of responsibility

Maintenance: pipework, appliances and flues must be maintained in a safe condition. Gas appliances should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. If these are not available it is recommended that they are serviced annually unless advised otherwise by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Gas safety checks: a 12 monthly gas safety check must be carried out on every gas appliance/flue.  A gas safety check will make sure gas fittings and appliances are safe to use.

Record: a record of the annual gas safety check must be provided to your tenant within 28 days of the check being completed or to new tenants before they move in. Landlords must keep copies of the gas safety record for two years.

Ref: gassaferegister.co.uk

It is important to note that if a landlord does not comply with these regulations you can incur heavy fines and even risk imprisonment.

Legal documentation

Under the private tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 all landlords shall provide free of charge a rent book. According to the Order a rent book:

  • Shall be used to maintain a written record of rent and other payments made in respect of a tenancy.
  • Shall contain such particulars and information relating to the tenancy as may be prescribed.

Source: www.legislation.gov.uk

A rent book must contain the following information

  • The address of the premises
  • The name of the tenant.
  • The name, address and telephone number of the landlord
  • The name, address and telephone number of the landlord's agent (if any)
  • The rent payable and the period covered by each payment
  • The capital value of the dwelling.
  • The rates payable by the tenant, in addition to rent, and the period covered by each payment.
  • The amount and description of any other payment which the tenant is required to make in addition to rent and rates (for example in respect of heating).
  • The tenancy commencement date.

Source: NI housing executive

As well as this tenants must also receive a written statement of tenancy terms this should include the following:

  • The name of all tenants and the address of the rental property
  • The name, address  and contact phone number of the landlord
  • The name, address and contact phone number of the landlord's agent (if any) and a description of the services provided on behalf of the landlord
  • The emergency out of office hours telephone contact number for the landlord or agent
  • The term of the tenancy for example, weekly, monthly, quarterly
  • The date that the tenancy started
  • The length of the tenancy and the date it will end
  • The length of notice which must be given by the landlord and the tenant in order to end the tenancy (except in the case of a fixed term tenancy)
  • The amount of rent payable, how often and when it should be paid
  • The amount of rates payable and who is responsible for paying the rates
  • The amount of deposit payable and how it will be repaid
  • The amount and description of any other payment which the tenant is required to make in addition to rent and rates, for example, heating.
  • Details of who is responsible for repairs
  • Details of any other obligations on the landlord or tenant forming part of the tenancy agreement
  • An inventory of any furniture or furnishings provided
  • The information contained in the Tenancy Terms Regulations 2007 Schedule which can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk

Next time I will look at landlord's legal obligations during the tenancy and ending a tenancy including repairing obligations, inspections of premises and notices served. If you have any further questions pleas email them to colin@propertypeopleni.com


Part 2 - Tenants rights & wrongs

Landlords repairing obligations.

The landlord must ensure that the property is suitable for human habitation. All properties that are paid for by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (via housing benefit) must be inspected by the local district council to ensure that the property meets the basic standards fit for human occupation and if the property meets the standard a certificate of fitness is issued by the local council.

  • The structure and exterior of the property, including exterior paintwork, drains, gutters and external pipes.
  • The interior of the property other than matters covered under tenant responsibilities.
  • Any installations for the supply and use of water, gas, electricity, and sanitation (including baths, sinks, wash-hand basins and toilets).
  • Any appliances provided by the landlord under the tenancy for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity.
  • Any installations for space heating and water heating.
  • Any fixtures, fittings and furniture provided by the landlord under the terms of the tenancy.
  • Keeping in good repair any common areas or areas required for access.
  • Keeping any area required for access adequately lit and safe to use.

Tenant repairing obligations

Tenants obligations should be clearly set out in the terms and conditions of the leased agreement here are some examples of tenants terms and conditions that relate to the upkeep and repair of the property during the tenancy.

  • Generally taking care of the property including the fixtures, fittings and furnishings during the term of the tenancy.
  • Making good or repairing any damage to the property, fittings, fixtures and furnishings caused by the tenant, tenant's family or anyone on the property with the tenants permission.
  • Keeping and maintaining the property the interior and exterior of the property.
  • Ensuring the property is adequately heated, ventilated and avoid condensation
  • Reporting any repair issues promptly to the landlord or landlords agent promptly
  • Not to undertake any decoration or alteration to the property without first obtaining permission form the landlord
  • Ensuring that refuse is kept in the appropriate closed receptacle and is made available for collection by the council on the appropriate days.

Tenants rights

The tenant has the right to lawfully enjoy the possession of the property during the term of the tenancy whist adhering to the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement. In other words that tenant who is paying rent on time and looking after the property should be able to peacefully enjoy the property without any interference or intrusion from the landlord. Landlords must seek permission from the tenant to access the property even to carry out repairs (except in the case of an emergency). Repairs must be carried out at reasonable times during the day and with prior notice. If a landlord enters the property without permission or prior notice this behaviour can be deemed as harassment.

Ending a tenancy.

Both landlords and tenants can lawfully end a tenancy at the end of the tenancy term by giving either party 28 days notice. However if the tenant has failed to keep the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement the landlord can issue the tenant with the 28 days notice to quit before this. During the 28 day notice period the landlord cannot

  • Change the locks while the tenant is out of the property
  • Withdraw or with hold services e.g. heating, electricity or water
  • Threaten the tenant or act in any way that interferes with the tenants peace or comfort.
  • If the landlord does any of the above he would be liable for illegal eviction and harassment and would be open to prosecution.

After the 28 day notice period has lapsed if the tenant has not moved on the landlord can then start court proceedings for a possession order.

If you have any questions or require any further information please contact me at colin@propertypeopleni.com or call 02890747300.

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