Landlord and Tenant Law

Both landlords and tenants have legal obligations to each other. There are contractual rights contained within the tenancy agreement and in addition rights provided by legislation.

Landlord and Tenant Law

Both landlords and tenants have legal obligations to each other. There are contractual rights contained within the tenancy agreement and in addition rights provided by legislation. The Disability Discrimination Act, Sex Discrimination Act and Race Relations Act will all apply to anyone letting, selling or managing premises. Also, the various Housing Acts regulate the relationship and give additional rights to a tenant.

The landlord is responsible for:

• Repairs to the structure and exterior of the property, heating and hot water installations, basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary installations;
• The safety of gas and electrical appliances;
• The fire safety of furniture and furnishings provided under the tenancy;
• Ensuring that the property is fit for habitation;
• Repairing and keeping in working order the room and water heating equipment;
• The common areas in multi-occupancy dwellings.

The tenant is responsible for:

• Paying the rent as agreed and taking proper care of the property;
• Bills for gas electricity, telephone, etc if this was agreed with the landlord;
• In most cases, paying the council tax, water and sewerage charges.If the landlord fails to get repairs done after being told about them, the tenant can sue the landlord in court. The court can award damages and order the repairs to be done.In addition, the law gives local authorities certain powers to deal with private sector properties in disrepair. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, a local authority may take action to require the owner of a property which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance to remedy the defects.A landlord who is convicted of failing to comply with an abatement notice may be liable to fines, which increase daily. Also, under the Housing Act 1988, local authorities are under a statutory duty to take action where a property is in such a state that it is unfit for human habitation.If the council accepts that a property is unfit for habitation, it may choose from a range of remedial measures. They may serve a repair notice and if necessary prosecute the landlord for non-compliance and carry out the works in default. In extreme cases, they can order a house to be closed down or demolished, in which case they must rehouse the tenants. If the property is subject to closure while the repairs are carried out or to a demolition order, the tenant will be entitled to alternative accommodation (though it may not be permanent housing) and compensation.

Most tenants may only carry out certain improvements if they get written permission from the landlord, who can impose conditions or refuse permission, but must not do either unreasonably. If the tenant does not satisfy reasonable conditions imposed by the landlord, they could be breaking their agreement and the landlord might be able to regain possession.

Withholding rent to pay for repairs

If a tenant does not pay their rent, the landlord can take them to court for arrears, and may seek possession on arrears grounds. In some circumstances, if the right procedure is followed, the tenant could do the work and take the cost out of the rental payments.

Shorthold tenancies

A letting of residential property is automatically an assured shorthold tenancy unless agreed otherwise in writing. An assured shorthold tenancy means that:

· The landlord has a guaranteed right to get the property back after six months, if they wish to;
· The landlord may charge a ‘market rate’ for rent, that is, the going rate for similar property in the area;
· The landlord can seek possession if the tenant owes at least two months or eight weeks rent;
· The landlord can evict tenants who are causing a nuisance to local people.

A resident landlord letting is one where the landlord and the tenant live in the same building. This includes conversions where they live in different parts of the same property but excludes purpose built flats, with landlord and tenant living in different flats. There are two main issues where the rights of landlord and tenant differ for resident landlord lettings.

Broadly, someone who lets from a resident landlord:
· Does not have a right to challenge the level of rent that he or she has agreed to pay;
· Can be given less notice to leave if the landlord wants to end the letting.

I am a lease holder of a ground floor flat and the freeholder owns the upstairs property, He is paying the buildings insurance but refusing to show me any paperwork. can I organise my own buildings insurance so I do not have to deal with him. “]

It is unlikely that you would be able to find an insurer able to offer cover over a property where you do not own the freehold and the freeholder is obliged to insure and has possibly done so.
This would appear as a usual lease where your landlord as owner of the freehold has coveted to insure. Under the terms of the lease you will be required to contribute to the cost of the policy and I do not know whether you are doing so or have been requested to do so. Whatever the case you are certainly entitled to be provided with details of the policy. As this is being refused you are quite able to presume that the landlord is in breach of his covenant and is putting you at risk by not having insurance for the property in place.
The way forward must be for you to write to the landlord (if as it seems relationships have broken down) and put him of notice of the presumed breach and that court proceedings for damages and a mandatory injunction requiring him to prove compliance are intended. Providing you have evidence of his refusal to show that insurance is place your costs will be recoverable even if there is a policy already in place.

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