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Last edited 09 Jun 2018
The term ‘landlord’ refers to a property owner who rents all or part of that property by lease or licence for a period of time.
There are different types of landlord, which can be determined by the actual time span for which a property is rented:
- Portfolio landlord: This is a landlord who owns five or more properties.
- Buy-to-let landlord: This is a landlord who buys a property in order to rent it out to tenants as a medium to long-term investment.
- Let-to-buy landlord: This is a landlord who lets their existing property in order to facilitate a move to a new home they have bought. This can be a useful option when a property is proving difficult to sell.
- Short-term landlord: This is a landlord who only lets their property for a short period of time, typically between a few weeks to up to 6 months.
- Long-term landlord: For up to 7 years the landlord has repair obligations under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act. After 7 years they may not depending on the terms of the tenancy agreement.
An implied tenancy agreement, such as in the case of accommodation being part of a job (e.g. vicar, publican), means that the occupant should carry out the landlord’s duties.
The duties held by a landlord apply to a range of accommodation that has been rented out for less than 7 years:
- Residential premises: Rented by local authorities, housing associations, private sector landlords, housing co-operatives, hostels.
- Rooms: Let in bedsit accommodation, private households, bed-and-breakfast accommodation, hotels.
- Rented holiday accommodation: Chalets, cottages, flats, caravans, narrow boats on waterways.
The landlord/tenant relationship differs from that of the freeholder/leaseholder. A freeholder owns the ‘title absolute’ of a property and their details will appear on the land registry. A leaseholder uses the property for a specified period subject to conditions set out in the lease in return for the payment of rent.
The leaseholder may be permitted to sell the lease to another party or purchase the freehold (a process known as leasehold enfranchisement). They may also, in multi-occupancy properties, enter into collective ownership of the property freehold, known as commonhold.
 Duties of landlords
The main responsibility of the landlord is to keep the property safe, free from health hazards and in a well-maintained condition. Any contents of the property must also be safe and should not cause injury or damage to tenants, neighbours or the public.
The council can hold a landlord to account using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
The legislation obliges the landlord to keep the property structure and exterior well maintained. The costs of repairs or maintenance undertaken during the tenancy period must be borne by the landlord, unless damage has been directly caused by the tenant. If landlords don’t fulfill their legal obligations then local authorities have the power to prosecute.
The landlord is legally responsible for:
- The structure and exterior of the property.
- Services such as lighting, heating, hot water installations and water supply.
- Ventilation, serious damp.
- Basins, sink, baths and showers.
- Usually responsible for maintaining and repairing common areas, such as staircases.
Part II of the Act offers business tenants legal protection for the value they may have built up in a location which would be lost if they had to leave their premises when the lease expired; for example, if they have installed a lot of equipment, If the location is vital to their operation, if business continuity is important, and so on.
 The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations
The landlord must:
- Ensure the safe installation and maintenance of gas equipment by a registered engineer.
- Have a registered engineer undertake an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue.
- Provide tenants with a copy of the gas safety check record before moving in.
- Keep accurate records of all inspections, noting dates and repairs carried out.
The landlord must:
- Ensure that the electrical system, such as sockets and light fittings, is safe.
- Ensure that all appliances, such as cookers and kettles, are safe.
 The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations
The landlord must:
- Provide fire alarms on each floor.
- From 1 October 2015, private landlords in England have been required to fit carbon monoxide detectors in every room with a solid fuel burning appliance. Detectors must be tested at the start of each tenancy, and penalties for failure to comply can be up to £5,000.
- Ensure each prescribed alarm is in proper working order on the day the tenancy begins if it is a new tenancy.
The landlord must:
- Ensure escape routes are accessible and in good condition.
- Provide fire extinguishers where necessary.
- In accordance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, a fire risk assessment must be carried out to minimise the risk of fire.If the property is furnished, the landlord must ensure that furniture and furnishings comply with the guidelines set under the Furniture and Furnishings Fire and Safety Regulations.
There are a number of costs to a landlord when letting a property:
Agencies help market the property, vet prospective tenants, collect and chase rent, and may also manage the maintenance of the property. The level of service determines the fee to be paid by the landlord.
 Income tax and capital gains tax
The landlord’s obligations to maintain the property mean that they will bear the costs for cleaning, replacing damaged articles, repainting, replacing services, and so on.
Buildings insurance protects against fire and flood damage. Contents insurance covers the house contents. Landlord liability insurance covers landlords in the event of a tenant suffering an injury in the house for which the landlord may be responsible.
Rent is the sum of money paid by the tenant to the landlord on a weekly, monthly, or other basis. Periodic tenancies that continue on a weekly or monthly basis cannot be subject to more than one rent increase per year by the landlord without the tenant’s agreement.
A fixed-term tenancy, which runs for a defined time period, allows the landlord to increase the rent only if the tenant agrees. Without agreement, the rent can only be increased when the fixed term ends and before it is renewed. However, virtually all commercial leases issued in the UK will contain a provision allowing the landlord to periodically adjust the rent payable by the tenant.
The following obligations apply to any tenancy:
- The landlord must get the tenant’s permission before the rent can be increased by more than previously agreed.
- The rent increase must be fair, realistic, and not out of keeping with average local rents.
- The procedure for increasing rent set out in the tenancy agreement must be adhered to.
- Without such a procedure in the tenancy agreement, the rent can only be increased at the end of the fixed term.
- If the tenancy is weekly or monthly the landlord must give a minimum of one month’s notice for rent increases. If the tenancy yearly then they must give 6 months’ notice.
- Landlords can pursue eviction procedures if a tenant falls behind with rent payments.
Deposits are usually paid by new tenants to landlords to secure the property and provide security in the event of default, or damage to the property. If a home is rented on an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) that started after 6 April 2007, the landlord must put the deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP).
For more information, see Rent.
It is possible for a landlord to terminate a tenancy by the service of a statutory notice which provides a termination date not less than 6 months or more than 12 months after the notice has been served. The landlord must also prove a statutory ground for possession. It may be necessary for a landlord to satisfy the Courts if matters cannot be agreed with the tenants.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Break clauses in leases.
- Buy-to-let mortgage.
- Derogation from grant.
- Energy efficiency regulations: The challenges for landlords.
- Failure to notify tenant.
- Ground rent.
- Housing tenure.
- How to evict a tenant.
- Landlord and Tenant Act.
- Lease negotiations.
- Leasehold covenants.
- Property guardianship.
- Quiet enjoyment.
- Rent free period.
- Rent review.
- Right to rent.
- Tenancy deposit protection.
- Vacant possession.
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