Remember that each of the above issues is always subject to the wording of your tenancy agreement. If you are having a dispute with your tenant or landlord, you can use the above information as a rough guide to who should be accountable. If the dispute remains unresolved, then you may need to seek external help or advice. You could consider contacting The Citizen’s Advice Bureau as a tenant, or The National Landlords Association as a landlord. Both tenants and landlords also have certain legal rights, which you can find details of here.
The tenant is responsible for paying their rent, on time and in full. The amount due should be clearly defined in the tenancy agreement, and both parties should have written confirmation that such money is to be received each month or week.
If the tenant falls behind with their rent or misses a payment, the landlord has the right to undertake possession action and potentially evict them. However, an eviction is not necessarily something that can happen overnight, as there are formal steps to follow. You can find more detailed information about the eviction process on the Citizen’s Advice website.
Mostly tenant responsibility
It is the tenant’s responsibility to pay a safety deposit for the property, if required. It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that monetary deposits are placed into a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme. The landlord can, at their own discretion, also accept valuable items as a deposit - for example a car or an item of jewellery. However, these would not be eligible for protection under a tenancy deposit scheme.
At the end of the tenancy, the deposit is returned to the tenant, either in full or in part depending on the condition of the property. The landlord has the right to subtract money from the deposit to cover damage to the property or furnishings, items missing from the inventory, or any rent arrears. If the tenant does not agree with the landlord's deductions, they have the right to contest the decision, in which case the tenancy deposit scheme will protect the deposit and can arbitrate in the matter until an agreement is reached.
Mostly landlord responsibility
Both the landlord and the tenant can be responsible for arranging and paying for appropriate insurance cover. Buildings and contents insurance are likely to be two of the most important policies for any rental property. With these policies, a general rule of thumb is that whoever owns the object or objects in question will be responsible for insuring them.
Building’s insurance is almost always the landlord’s responsibility, as the building belongs to them, and landlords may also want to take out contents insurance – for example if they let a furnished property. If tenants wish to protect their own personal belongings and valuables against threats such as damage and theft, then they will have to take out their own separate protection.
Aside from buildings and contents cover, there are also other types of insurance that a landlord may want to consider taking out. Find out more about landlord insurance here.
Mostly tenant responsibility
It is usually the case that the tenant is in charge of paying for the property’s utilities – that is, gas, electricity and water. In this situation, the tenant should have their own utility accounts with suppliers, so that they have full control over the account, and the freedom to switch suppliers if they so wish.
When moving into a new property, tenants should make the effort to contact all utility suppliers and inform them of the new occupancy. This helps to ensure that potential debt from previous inhabitants is not carried over to the new tenants.
It may be the case that water, electricity and gas expenses are included in the price of rent. If so, this is usually made clear when the property is advertised, and it should also be stated in the tenancy agreement. In this case, the landlord would be responsible for keeping all utility accounts in credit and up to date.
Landlords are always responsible for keeping the equipment used to supply water – such as pipes – in safe working order, unless the tenant has intentionally caused malicious damage.
Mostly tenant responsibility
Usually, tenants are responsible for paying their own council tax, separately from rent and other bills. There is a chance that the cost of council tax could be included in the price of rent, which should be specified in the tenancy agreement if so.
However, should the local council need to take action – for example in a case of non-payment of council tax – they would pursue the tenant, regardless of whether or not the landlord has agreed to be responsible for payments. In this situation, the tenant could seek to recover council tax costs from the landlord separately. This may differ if the property is a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO).
If the property is occupied by students, then it will most likely be exempt from council tax. In this case, the tenants will have to apply for an exemption.
If the landlord has provided means to watch or record live TV – for example a television or games console – then then it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the property is covered by a valid TV licence. This is not to say that the landlord must necessarily pay for it, as the tenancy agreement may state that the tenant is responsible for paying.
If, when the tenant moved in, there was no means of watching or recording live broadcasts - and the tenant then provides their own device on which to do so - then it is the tenant’s responsibility to attain and pay for a TV licence.
Internet, phone line & digital TV
Tenants will probably have to arrange their own phone line rental, internet access and digital television services, in which case they will be responsible for paying for it.
However, tenants are advised to check their contracts before taking out any subscriptions of their own, as there’s a chance that some of these services may be provided and paid for by the landlord already. Landlords can choose whether or not to include additional services - such as broadband - in the price of the rent.
Mostly landlord responsibility
It is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the structural integrity of the building, so that pests are unable to enter - for example through a hole in the wall or a broken pipe. The property must be pest-free before any tenant moves in, which also means ensuring that furniture does not have lice or fleas.
It is the tenant’s responsibility to ensure the property remains pest free throughout their tenancy, specifically by maintaining a good standard of cleanliness inside and out - and disposing of rubbish properly.
If the property becomes infested due to the building being in disrepair, then the landlord will be responsible for arranging and paying for extermination. If the infestation occurs due to uncleanliness, then responsibility falls to the tenant.
The cause of a clogged drain will determine which party is responsible for repairing it.
For example, if a plumber finds that a fault in the underground line is the cause of the clogging, then it will come down to the landlord to rectify the damage, as they are typically in charge of maintenance of this kind. However, if the blockage is caused by the tenant's behaviour – for instance an excessive amount of toilet paper - then the tenant will bear the responsibility.
Mostly tenant responsibility
If the property is let furnished then the landlord is responsible for ensuring the fire safety of the furnishings. The tenant is liable for any damage they cause to the landlord’s furniture, for example spilling a drink and staining the upholstery of a sofa. This includes damage caused by children or pets. If the tenant cannot repair or replace damaged furnishings to the landlord’s satisfaction, then the landlord may take compensation from the security deposit.
Mostly landlord responsibility
White goods and other appliances are commonly provided by the landlord in many rental properties. These goods can include:
- Washing machines
- Tumble dryers
As with other furnishings, the landlord should ensure that all appliances they provide are in good working order before any tenant moves in. General maintenance, servicing and repair of appliances could fall to either party oversee. If the tenancy agreement specifically states that one party - either tenant or landlord - is responsible for appliance maintenance, then they are bound by that contractual obligation. If the tenancy agreement does not specify or is unclear, it’s advisable that tenants confirm whether or not maintenance will be their responsibility before signing a contract.
The tenant would be responsible for any damage caused by their own negligence or intentional actions.
Tenants are responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the property during their tenancy. The landlord has the right to deduct money from the deposit if the property is left dirty after tenants vacate.
If a property is dirty before a tenant moves in, it is the landlord’s responsibility to clean. Tenants can request that the property is cleaned before they sign a tenancy agreement, if they so wish. It can help both parties to take photographs to document the state of a property before and after moving in and out, in order to clarify any disagreements.
Damp is a common problem in rental properties, and – as with many other factors – the cause will ultimately determine whose responsibility it is to rectify the issue.
If the damp is penetrative or rising damp through the walls, then it is most likely caused by a structural issue, making it the landlord’s responsibility to resolve. If it is damp caused by condensation or mildew, then it typically falls on the tenant to reduce moisture and ensure the property is properly ventilated.
It’s worth noting that it is a tenant’s responsibility to report damp to landlords as soon as possible, so that action can be taken to prevent it from worsening. The tenant is advised to do so in writing, for example via email. Read this guide for more information on damp in rental properties.
Tenants are responsible for repairing or replacing anything broken or damaged directly by them, be it their own furnishings or those provided by the landlord. This includes damage caused accidentally, or by tenants’ children and pets.
Landlords are accountable for repairs to the structure of the property, permanent fixtures and fittings, heating and hot water systems – assuming the damage has not been caused by direct actions of the tenant. However, tenants do have some responsibility here, as it’s their job to report repairs that need to be made to their landlords – ideally in writing.
Both landlord and tenant are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the property.
Landlords are in charge of larger jobs such as boiler servicing and maintenance of sanitary installations (such as baths, sinks and toilets), as they are ultimately responsible for ensuring the property is safe to live in. Landlords are also responsible for repairs to the structure of the property, such as walls, doors, roof, windows and stairs. Tenants are usually accountable for minor maintenance, such as changing light bulbs, chimney cleaning, upkeep of gardens and other outside areas.
Tenants have a responsibility to maintain the general condition of the property during the course of their tenancy, including taking actions to ensure pipes do not freeze in the winter. If the property fell into a state of disrepair that could have been avoided by tenant action, then the tenant will ultimately bear the responsibility.
Ensuring every area of the property is safe to inhabit usually falls to the landlord to take care of. The landlord should ensure that the property is safe before any tenants move in. This includes:
- Testing fire alarms and smoke detectors
- Testing burglar alarms
- Arranging fire risk assessment
- Obtaining gas certificates.
Tenants should inform landlords if the need for any such maintenance arises during their tenancy.
Energy Performance Certificate
Providing an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property is the responsibility of the landlord. Arranging and paying for the energy performance inspection to be carried out is also the landlord’s job.
Landlords are legally required to provide an EPC certificate for any property they advertise as for lease. Failing to do so can result in a fine of £200.
Tenants are often the ones who bear the brunt of a home that isn't energy efficient, typically through hefty energy bills and cold draughts. However, it actually comes down to the landlord to make energy efficiency improvements to the property. These improvements, such as double glazing or draught proofing, usually require major or structural alterations to a property, and tenants are rarely permitted to make these kinds of substantial changes without their landlord's permission.
Tenants can ask their landlords to invest in energy efficiency improvements, but it is ultimately the landlord’s decision. There are a number of government schemes available to help with initial investment costs, such as The Green Deal, The Energy Company Obligation, and The Renewable Heat Incentive.
Under new government legislation, soon landlords may not legally be able to let properties that fall below a certain energy rating. Find out more information on that here.
Sometimes in rental properties such as student housing or apartment complexes, tenants are provided with additional amenities and services during their residency. This type of accommodation is often referred to as being ‘serviced’. Extra services are typically, although not exclusively, applicable to the communal areas of the property, and can include:
- Laundry services
- Reception desks.
Because of these extra benefits, tenants are usually required to pay a supplementary service charge. This charge is wholly the tenant’s responsibility to pay and may or may not be already included in rent. The tenancy agreement should state whether or not any service charges need to be paid separately from standard rent payments. Tenants must ensure that details surrounding any such charges are understood and agreed to before signing tenancy contracts.
Keeping the property in a reasonable state of cleanliness and not allowing rubbish to accumulate on the property is the responsibility of the tenant. Tenants will need to ensure they use the correct waste disposal bins, and leave them out for collection on the days allocated by the local council.
If there are any issues around bin collection, the tenant should take the issue up with the local council, not the landlord of the property.
In many cases, rental properties are decorated very neutrally, and it is not unusual for tenants to want to change this. However, the landlord gets final say on all decoration of the property.
The landlord’s rules around décor may be included in the tenancy agreement, but if not, tenants can request permission to decorate. This could include:
- Painting walls, ceilings and floors
- Adding fixtures such as shelving
- Hammering or drilling holes into walls, for example to hang pictures
- Laying new flooring.
It is up to the landlord to allow decoration at their own discretion. Tenants may be required to return the property to its original state when they vacate. A tenant should always ask the landlord to confirm in writing any consent to make decorative or aesthetic changes.
Right of access
There is often a certain amount of ambiguity and confusion surrounding rights of access in rental properties - that is, whether landlords are, essentially, allowed to let themselves into a tenanted property.
The landlord does have the right to access their rental property while it is inhabited to assess its condition and carry out repairs where strictly necessary. However, landlords cannot enter the property without giving the tenants at least 24 hours’ notice, and arranging to visit at a reasonable time of day – except in the case of an emergency. Tenants are entitled to their own privacy while renting, and therefore can deny landlords access if they have not been given reasonable notice. A landlord must never enter the property without the permission of the tenant, and may need to seek an injunction if that permission is not given.
Garages, sheds & outhouses
Sometimes disputes may arise as to whether the tenant or the landlord has the right to access and use external buildings, such as a garage or shed. For example, it is not unusual for some landlords to keep their own belongings stored in external buildings and deny tenants access for safety or security reasons. This may not affect some tenants, but others may require the use of such buildings, for example to park a car at night time.
If a landlord wishes to keep an external building for their own private use, then this must be specifically outlined in the tenancy agreement. Otherwise, a tenant should be granted full access to external buildings, as they are a component of ‘the property’ that the tenant pays for.
If there is a disagreement over who has the right to access and use external space such as a garage, tenants and landlords should first try to come to an agreement between themselves. Often, reasonable agreements can be made without the need to involve a third party or seek external advice.
Tenancy renewal & notice periods
When a fixed term tenancy arrangement is nearing its end, the tenant should make it clear to the landlord whether or not they wish to stay in the property. If the tenant decides to stay, a new fixed term agreement can be arranged, or the tenant can lawfully remain in the property as a statutory periodic tenant. If they intend to vacate by the last day of the fixed term, they should inform the landlord so that the landlord knows that they need to find a replacement tenant.
A notice period is required if either tenant or landlord needs to terminate the tenancy ahead of its original agreed end date, or if a rolling contract (statutory periodic tenancy) is in place. Landlords must give at least two months’ notice, providing the tenant is not being evicted. Tenants are bound by the terms stipulated in the tenancy agreement, unless they are on a rolling contract, in which case they must only provide a minimum of 28 days’ notice.