Active Inventories

Tenancy Agreements
Landlord's and Tenant's Responsibilities

By Tony Catchpole

To avoid disputes at the end of tenancies landlords and tenants should each understand their responsibilities that apply during a tenancy period. Where possible a tenant should insist on an inventory of the contents and condition of the property they are renting.

Questions such as who is responsible for the internal and external cleaning and maintenance of a property may sometimes not be fully understood by tenants. In addition responsibility for the seasonal maintenance of garden areas and who is to provide the tools to achieve this can also be misunderstood. It may be advantageous for a smooth tenancy if landlords and tenants are clear on what is required from each of them throughout the tenancy period.

In these days of competition for rental property tenants can sometimes overlook the full details of their tenancy agreements in the rush to secure a property to rent. This can be costly if unexpected deductions are made from their deposit at the end of a tenancy. It may be understandable that tenants do not always read the small print in their tenancy agreements. However, by signing an agreement a tenant will be responsible to comply with the terms set out. Where there is doubt or uncertainty the opinion of a legal or housing law expert organisation such as Shelter or Citizens Advice should be sought.

Alterations including re decorations to a property by a tenant (no matter how small) should only be carried out with written permission of the landlord. This will avoid disagreements, disputes and unexpected deposit deductions at tenancy end.

Insurance aspects of the property and those occupying it should also be clearly understood. It may not always be wise for a tenant to assume that a landlord is responsible for every aspect of the property throughout a tenants stay. For example, If a tenant leaves the property empty for an extended amount of time a tenancy agreement may set out what should happen in these circumstances. In any event tenants may be best advised to inform their landlord and their own insurers.

The landlord will normally be required to insure the property in respect of buildings cover and the risks they take on in renting out their property. Such cover would not normally cover the tenants possessions etc. Therefore, tenants should not overlook identifying and putting in place insurance to cover their use of the property and protect their possessions etc.

A tenancy agreement may set out that the landlords responsibilities include repairs and breakdowns of installed equipment etc as well as the statutory items they are required to comply with such as electrical and gas safety.

Statutory responsibilities on landlords should not be ignored but sometimes are. If tenants are aware of any issues such as an out of date gas safety check and certificate in may be prudent for them to remind the landlord. Even though a tenant is not responsible for items such as gas safety etc they may wish to protect themselves if a landlord breaches or overlooks their responsibility.

Tenants are usually responsible for utilities (gas, electricity, water) during their tenure. It is important to collect the meter readings and meter serial numbers at the start of a tenancy and report these to the current suppliers as soon as possible. Tenants sometimes wish to switch suppliers and usually this is not an issue that needs reporting to a landlord. However, if a meter change is considered or enforced by a utility supplier such as an electricity or gas pre payment meter permission should be sought from the landlord in advance. Many utility companies disregard landlords of let properties when enforcing a pre pay meter and this can have costly ramifications for a tenant if at the end of a tenancy a landlord insists on having a pre pay meter removed. At the end of a tenancy at the time a tenant vacates meter readings should be taken and reported to the relevant utility companies to ensure that only costs applying to a tenancy period are charged to a tenant. It may also be a good idea to inform the utility companies of the landlords name and address at the same time to ensure a tenant does not by ommission be liable for any utility charges after their tenancy ends.

Tenants (and Landlords) often do not understand Fair Wear and Tear. Our understanding that fair wear and tear is the natural deterioration of fixtures, fittings, and decorations etc over time given normal use. Fair wear and tear should never be used as an excuse to deduct monies from a tenant at a tenancy end.

Here are some steps a tenant may wish to take in understanding their responsibilities:
▪ Carefully read through your tenancy agreement.
▪ Ensure that tenants responsibilities are fully understood.
▪ Seek the advice of a legal or housing law expert if in doubt.
▪ Ensure you fully understand the details of your tenancy agreement.
▪ Ask for an inventory report.
▪ Carefully check an inventory report for accuracy.
▪ Carry out your own inspection of the property and make corrections if necessary.
▪ Send any notes to the landlord or their agent in writing and seek a receipt.
▪ If an inventory is not supplied consider ordering or preparing your own.
▪ Take your own images of the property at the start and end of a tenancy.
▪ Take detailed images as you may not be able to foresee what later could become an issue.
▪ Digital images are cheap to take and store.
▪ Too many images in our opinion are better than too few.
▪ An agreed inventory report will be reliable as a comparison at a tenancy end.
▪ Images can also assist in disputes.
▪ Landlords have legal responsibilities to ensure the safety of their premises.
▪ Such as Gas and Electrical safety for appliances and installations in the property
▪ Assessing for Legionnaires disease risk from water systems is now a landlords responsibility.
▪ Other responsibilities not listed here may also apply.

Where there is doubt or uncertainty on what responsibilities apply to a tenancy the opinion of a legal or housing law expert organisation such as Shelter or Citizens Advice should be sought.

Please contact Tony if you have questions or need help with any of our Products. or have questions.
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