A Guide to Landlords Responsibilities & Legal Obligations in England

February 23, 2024 |

Being a landlord can be a rewarding venture, offering a source of income and a potential investment opportunity. However, it also comes with a set of significant responsibilities and legal obligations that must be understood and adhered to. In England, these responsibilities are clearly outlined in various legislations to ensure that tenants have a safe and habitable living environment.

In this article, our landlord and tenant solicitors will delve into the key aspects of landlords’ responsibilities and legal obligations in England.

Understanding Landlords’ Responsibilities

1. Providing Safe and Habitable Accommodation

One of the primary responsibilities of a landlord in England is to provide their tenants with safe and habitable accommodation. This means that the property should be in good repair and fit for the purpose for which it is let. Landlords must ensure that the property is free from hazards that could harm the tenant’s health or safety, such as faulty electrical wiring, structural issues and damp and mould.

2. Repair Responsibilities

Landlords have a legal duty to maintain and repair the property they rent out. This includes:

a. Structural Repairs

Landlords are responsible for maintaining the structure of the property, including the walls, roof, floors, and windows. Any damage or deterioration that affects the structural integrity of the building must be addressed promptly – this is a statutory obligation.

b. Plumbing and Heating

Landlords are obligated to ensure that plumbing and heating systems are in good working order. This includes fixing leaks, repairing faulty heating systems, and providing hot water. This is another statutory obligation.

c. Electrical Systems

Electrical safety is of utmost importance. Landlords must ensure that the electrical wiring and appliances in the property are safe and in good working condition. Regular checks and prompt repairs are necessary, as is carrying out an EICR.

d. Gas Safety

If the property has gas appliances, landlords are legally required to have them checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Gas safety certificates must be provided to tenants, demonstrating the safety of the appliances.

3. Fire Safety

Landlords must take appropriate measures to ensure that the property complies with fire safety regulations. This includes providing smoke detectors on each floor of the property, ensuring escape routes are clear and unobstructed, and providing fire safety information to tenants. Carbon monoxide alarms are also legally required.

4. Security

Tenants have a right to feel safe in their rental property. Landlords should install secure locks on external doors and windows and take reasonable steps to ensure the property is secure from intruders.

5. Maintenance of Common Areas

If the property has common areas, such as hallways or staircases, landlords are responsible for their maintenance and safety.

Legal Obligations of Landlords

In addition to their responsibilities and rights, landlords in England have specific legal obligations to fulfil:

1. Licencing

A landlord must obtain a licence from their local authority when they rent out a property within an area that is subject to selective licencing.

A property qualifies as a Housing in Multiple Occupation (HMO) property if three or more of the occupying tenants, who are not from the same family, share the same toilet, bathroom, or kitchen facilities. A HMO landlord must obtain a HMO licence if the property is occupied by five or more tenants.

2. Permission

Landlords who intend to rent out a leasehold property must obtain permission from the freeholder beforehand.

Landlords who have an outstanding mortgage on their intended rental property must inform their mortgage provider and transition to a buy-to-let mortgage deal.

3. Taxes

Landlords must keep a detailed record of their income and expenditure, as they are required to pay Income Tax and conduct a yearly self-assessment with the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC.)

4. Deposit Protection

Landlords are required by law to protect their tenants’ deposits in a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. This ensures that the deposit is returned to the tenant at the end of the tenancy, minus any legitimate deductions.

5. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Landlords must provide tenants with a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property. This certificate rates the energy efficiency of the property and helps tenants understand potential energy costs.

6. Right to Rent Checks

Landlords are obligated to carry out “right to rent” checks to ensure that their tenants have the legal right to live in the UK. Failing to do so can result in penalties.

7. Providing Tenancy Information

Landlords must provide tenants with certain information, including details of how the deposit is protected, the property’s EPC, the government’s “How to Rent” guide and the gas safety EICR.

8. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Landlords must provide working smoke alarms on each floor of the property and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with solid fuel-burning appliances.

9. Repairs and Maintenance

Landlords must respond promptly to repair requests from tenants and carry out necessary maintenance to keep the property in good condition.

10. Legionella Risk Assessment

Landlords are required to conduct a Legionella risk assessment in line with health and safety legislation.

Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection that is caused by inhaling water droplets containing Legionella bacteria, which can be present in water systems.

Though the risk to residential properties is relatively low, landlords have a duty to ensure the safety of their tenants by carrying out a simple risk assessment for the presence of Legionella bacteria in their property.

11. Right to Access

Landlords are legally required to give tenants at least 24 hours’ notice before they enter the property. They cannot enter the property unless they have the tenant’s permission.

Consequences of Non-compliance

Failure to meet these legal obligations can have serious consequences for landlords. This may include fines, compensation claims from tenants, and difficulty in regaining possession of the property if eviction is necessary.


Being a landlord carries significant responsibilities and legal obligations. Landlords must provide safe and habitable accommodation, maintain the property, and ensure compliance with various regulations. While landlords also have rights, they must be balanced with their responsibilities to tenants.

To navigate this complex landscape effectively, landlords are encouraged to seek legal advice, join landlord associations, and stay informed about changes in legislation. By doing so, they can protect their investment and provide a secure and comfortable living environment for their tenants, ultimately benefiting both parties involved in the rental agreement.

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Helen Laycock