What are the legal responsibilities of landlords?

Landlords have a legal duty to ensure that their rental property, and any electrical equipment provided, is safe before a tenancy begins and throughout its duration. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 is the main legislation for landlords in England and Wales. Key points can be found in Section 8. Implied terms as to fitness for human habitation:

  • The property should be fit for people to live in at the beginning of the tenancy (subsection 1a)
  • The property should be kept in a fit state for people to live in during the tenancy (subsection 1b)

Section 11. Repairing obligations in short leases which places a duty on landlords to keep in repair and proper working order the:

  • Installations in the property for the supply of water, gas and electricity, and for sanitation (subsection 1b)
  • Space heating and heating water (subsection 1c)

Two other Acts – the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 – give landlords a duty of care for anyone visiting their property. In short, a landlord could be prosecuted if someone is injured on their land or premises – regardless of whether the visitor is there lawfully (the 1957 Act) or trespassing (the 1984 Act).

In addition, Landlords are also required to comply with the requirements of Part P of the the Building Regulations, which covers electrical safety in dwellings. This means that all electrical installation work undertaken in a home must comply with the ‘reasonable provision… in the design and installation of electrical installations… to protect persons operating, maintaining or altering the installations from fire or injury’.

Read further information about Part P here.

In October 2006, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (England and Wales) became law. It replaces most previous fire safety legislation and applies to all non-domestic premises, including common parts of blocks of flats, and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

A landlord is also responsible for the communal areas of a house, block of flats, or an estate that residents use in common with other tenants, such as:

  • Entrance halls and foyers
  • Lifts and stairwells 
  • Corridors 
  • Landings
  • Kitchens and bathrooms 
  • Laundries
  • Gymnasiums
  • Swimming pools and other leisure facilities
  • Parking and refuse areas 
  • Pathways 
  • Gardens
Note that the law for communal areas is different for Scotland. Further information and guidance is available free from the gov.uk website.