During a tenancy
When a tenant moves into the property, there are several things you must do, throughout the duration of the tenancy:
- Maintain – You must maintain the main structure and exterior of the property.
- Deal – You must deal with any problems with the water, electricity and gas supply.
- Maintain – You are responsible for the maintenance of any appliances and furniture you have supplied. All electrical appliances must have an annual Portable Appliance Test (PAT test), completed by a competent registered electrician.
- Repairs – When things don’t work (for example central heating), you are responsible to arrange for repairs. In the case of central heating, where you are unable to carry out repairs on a central heating system, you may be required to provide temporary heating. View the Landlords Guide to Common Hazards for more details.
- Insure – You are responsible for arranging insurance to cover the building, covering the cost of any damage from flood or fire. You must make it clear to the insurance company that the property is going to be let.
- Smoke Alarms – Ensure you have fitted smoke alarms and that tenants have a fire escape route.
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors – Ensure you have fitted carbon monoxide detector there the property has a solid fuel heating appliance. It is good practice to provide carbon monoxide detectors in all properties to protect your tenants from harm.
- Gas Safety Check – You must provide an annual gas safety check carried out by an approved gas engineer and provide a copy to the tenant. Further information on official gas engineers can be found on the Gas Safe Register website.
Use the expandable menu below to find more advice for landlords during a tenancy.
Landlord access during the tenancy
As a landlord you must give the tenant at least 24 hours “prior notice” in writing. The tenant must give the landlord or letting agent access to the property at reasonable times of the day. Access is only permitted for the following purposes:
- to inspect its condition and state of repair;
- to carry out the Landlord’s repairing obligations and other obligations under this agreement;
- to carry out any inspections required by law including (but not limited to) gas safety inspections, fire safety inspections and inspections of any smoke or carbon monoxide alarms installed in the property and to carry out any works, repairs, maintenance or installations (including the installation of any smoke or carbon monoxide alarm) required by law.
In the event of an emergency, the landlord (or person acting on a landlords behalf) can gain immediate access to the property.
Tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment
The right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ means that the tenant has the right to live in the property, as their home, without interference from the landlord or anybody else. The landlord cannot make unannounced visits and must comply with the terms of this agreement and the law in all dealings with the tenant.
Even where the landlord or his agents give notice of visits to the property, if the visits are very frequent and/or are made for little good reason, this may amount to a breach of the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment and could amount to harassment. In return the tenant is expected to allow reasonable access, including to carry out repairs and maintenance.
Tenants responsibility for repairs
The tenant is liable for the reasonable cost of repairs when they are directly attributable to the tenants failure to comply with their obligations. Tenants are responsible for damage or repairs which are clearly the fault or negligence of the tenant, any member of their family or their visitor.
This is covered in C4.1 and C4.2 of the Model Agreement for a Shorthold Assured Tenancy. This includes broken glass in windows where it is clear the tenants or their family or their visitors have caused the breakage.
Can the tenant redecorate or alter the property?
Clause C4.2 prevents the tenant from making any alternations to the property, or carrying out any re-decoration without the landlords permission. As a landlord you must not unreasonably withhold permission. For example, putting up a shelf is more unreasonable to be refused. In this case the landlord could put in a condition whereas the shelf is removed, the area made good and then redecorated to its original condition may be considered reasonable.
On this basis, if the tenant does not reinstate the area to its original condition, the landlord may be able to withhold funds from the deposit in order to do so.
The landlord must provide a property which is reasonably decorated. Kitchens and Bathrooms must have floor coverings which are easy to clean and maintain.
Access during periods where the tenant is absent for more than 28 days
If the tenant leaves the property unoccupied for a period of more than 28 consecutive days, as a landlord you may have access during that period, for purposes to keep the property insured and take steps, reasonably necessary to mitigate the risk of damage to the property during that period. From time to time tenants could be away, for example prolonged hospital stays. Before taking a decision that a tenant has absconded, we recommend you seek professional legal advice.
Tenant assignment or subletting
A tenant must not assign (i.e. transfer to another person) the tenancy, either in whole or in part without the consent of the landlord in writing. This includes a tenant renting out a room to a friend. As a landlord you cannot unreasonable withhold permission.
Things for a landlord to consider before permitting subletting are:
- If the property is leasehold and the freeholder prohibits subletting
- If the property’s mortgage or insurance terms prohibit subletting
- If the tenant refuses to provide references on the proposed sub-tenant
- If the proposed subletting would cause the property to become overcrowded or would breach a licence condition where the property is licensed
- If the proposed subletting would cause the property to fall within the definition of a licensable House in Multiple Occupation due to the number of unrelated occupants.
A request to sublet would include letting the property out on a short-term holiday let basis through sites such as Air BnB, or on a longer fixed term flat share basis through sites such as SpareRoom.co.uk.
Before agreeing to sublet the property, the tenant will need to confirm the prospective sub-tenant’s identity, credit history and possibly employment. If the property is to be used as the sub-tenant’s only or main home, the tenant must also check that all people aged 18 and over living in the property have the right to rent property in the UK (unless it is agreed in writing that the superior landlord will take responsibility for this).
If consent to sublet is given on the condition that an additional deposit is paid by the tenant, then the landlord must also protect that additional deposit in an authorised tenancy deposit scheme. The landlord must respond to requests to sublet the property within 28 working days and must state reasons if not granting consent.
Claiming housing benefit
Housing Benefit is a national scheme, which helps tenants on low incomes to pay their rent, and is administered and paid by the councils Housing Benefits team.
How is Housing Benefit claimed?
Tenants apply to their local council completing an application form either in person, over the phone of online. All applications must be supported by full original documentation, which confirms the tenant’s income and identity as well as confirming the rent charged and the tenancy conditions. Tenants should claim Housing Benefit as soon as they move into a property to avoid losing benefit.
Housing Benefit is paid in arrears directly to the tenant. In certain circumstances it can be paid to the landlord direct. View information on paying information direct to landlords. Further guidance is available at the Government’s How to Rent guide.
Home Improvement Team, New Oxford House, 2 George Street, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, DN31 1HB
Telephone: 01472 326296
Opening times: Monday to Thursday from 9am to 5pm and Friday 9am to 4:30 pm, except bank holidays