Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

The introduction of the Landlord Tenant Act 1985 aimed to enhance living standards for both landlords and tenants. It introduced the concept of tenancy agreements lasting seven years or less and eventually led to the subsequent rise of the buy-to-let phenomenon a few years later.

In this article, we take a closer look at the key sections in the Landlord Tenant Act 1985 with an explanation of the primary rights and responsibilities outlined in the act for both landlords and tenants.

What is the Landlord Tenant Act 1985?

The Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 is a significant piece of legislation in the United Kingdom that outlines the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. It provides a legal framework for the rental market and governs various aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship. Here are some key provisions of the Act:

Security of Tenure: The Act establishes different types of tenancies, including assured tenancies and assured shorthold tenancies. It sets out the rules regarding the duration of tenancies, notice periods for termination, and the rights of tenants to remain in their rented properties.

Rent Regulation: The Act introduced regulations for rent levels in certain types of tenancies, such as regulated tenancies. It stipulates the process for determining “fair rents” and provides mechanisms for rent adjustments and appeals.

Repair and Maintenance: The Act outlines the responsibilities of landlords and tenants regarding property maintenance and repairs. It establishes the distinction between minor and major repairs, clarifies who is responsible for each, and addresses the implications of failure to fulfill repair obligations.

Landlord’s Right to Access: The Act sets guidelines on when and how a landlord or their authorized representative can enter a rental property. It establishes requirements for providing advance notice to tenants and specifies exceptions for emergencies or when access is necessary for specific purposes, such as repairs or inspections.

Landlord’s Obligations: The Act outlines the general obligations of landlords, including the provision of essential services such as water, heating, and sanitation. It also covers matters related to health and safety standards, fire safety, and the suitability of rented properties for habitation.

Tenant’s Rights: The Act safeguards certain rights for tenants, including the right to know the identity of their landlord, the right to a written tenancy agreement, protection against unfair eviction, and the right to live in a property that is reasonably maintained and fit for habitation.

It’s important to note that the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 has been amended and supplemented by subsequent legislation, so it’s essential for landlords and tenants to refer to the most up-to-date versions of the Act and seek legal advice if needed.

Key Section of the Landlord Tenant Act 1985

Transparency of Landlord Identity

In many cases, landlords conduct their rental businesses through intermediaries such as letting agents, property managers, or companies, which can obscure the true identity of the decision-maker.

According to the provisions of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 if a tenant submits a written request for the landlord’s name and address to anyone collecting the rent or acting as an agent they must provide the tenant with the written name and address of the property owner within 21 days of receiving the request. 

In the case of a landlord being a limited company, the tenant can make an additional written request seeking the names and addresses of the company’s secretary and directors, again with a 21-day deadline.

Responsibility for Minor Repairs lies with Tenants

The tenancy agreement should clearly outline the definition of minor repairs and specify who holds the responsibility for addressing them. Most tenancy agreements impose four obligations on renters:

  • Maintaining a reasonably clean and tidy home.
  • Ensuring the safety of any owned electrical appliances.
  • Keeping the garden or outside area in a reasonable condition.
  • Performing minor maintenance tasks such as replacing faulty light bulbs and smoke alarm batteries.

The agreement should also indicate that tenants are liable for any damage caused by themselves, their children, their visitors, or their pets.

Tenant’s Right to Quiet Enjoyment

Quiet enjoyment” is a legal term that tenants should not mistake for a right to complete silence or living in a perfectly peaceful neighborhood. Section 9A (8) of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 addresses when a landlord or contractor can enter a tenant’s home. Unless in the case of an emergency, such as a flood or fire, entry is only permitted at a reasonable time and with at least 24 hours’ written notice provided to the tenant. Tenants can request a more convenient appointment but must allow the landlord or contractor access once the appointment is agreed upon.

Section 11 under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 is a crucial provision that relates to a landlord’s responsibility for repairs in rented properties. Here are the key points of Section 11:

  1. Implied Covenant: Section 11 implies a “covenant” or contractual obligation on the part of the landlord to keep the structure and exterior of the property in good repair. This includes the walls, roof, windows, doors, floors, ceilings, and other essential parts of the building.
  2. Repair Standards: The landlord is required to maintain the property to a certain standard, ensuring that it is fit for habitation. The property should be free from any defects that could pose risks to the health or safety of the occupants.
  3. Notice of Disrepair: If the tenant becomes aware of any disrepair in the property, they should notify the landlord in writing and provide sufficient details of the issues that require attention. This notice allows the landlord a reasonable opportunity to address the repairs.
  4. Timeframe for Repairs: Once the landlord receives the notice of disrepair, they are obligated to carry out the necessary repairs within a reasonable timeframe. The exact timeframe can vary depending on the severity of the repairs and other factors. However, the landlord is expected to act promptly.
  5. Landlord’s Remedial Action: If the landlord fails to address the required repairs within a reasonable timeframe, the tenant may have the right to take legal action. This can involve applying for a court order that compels the landlord to carry out the repairs or seeking compensation for any losses or inconvenience suffered.

It’s important to note that Section 11 applies to both furnished and unfurnished buy-to-let properties and it is a statutory requirement that cannot be contracted out of. Additionally, landlords have an ongoing duty to maintain the property throughout the tenancy, not just at the beginning.

It’s advisable for both landlords and tenants to familiarize themselves with the specific provisions of Section 11 and seek legal advice if they have any concerns or disputes related to repairs in a rented property.

Landlord Obligations to Maintain Safe Living Standards

Ensuring the safety and habitability of rented dwellings is a fundamental responsibility for landlords. They are obligated to provide a dwelling that is suitable for human habitation and free from safety hazards. This section focuses on the specific fixtures and fittings that landlords must provide and keep in proper repair and working order:

Electricity: Landlords must supply and maintain safe electrical installations, including wiring, switches, circuit boards, light fittings, and plug sockets. Additionally, they are required to have electrical inspections conducted every five years to ensure compliance with safety standards.

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Appliances: If landlords provide electrical appliances such as washing machines, fridges, or spin dryers, it is their responsibility to handle repairs unless the damage is caused by the tenant.

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Gas: All gas appliances, fittings, installations, pipes, and flues must be maintained in optimal working condition. Landlords are obliged to conduct annual gas safety inspections to ensure the safety of occupants.

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Water: Landlords must provide a reliable supply of running water and ensure the availability of necessary facilities such as basins, sinks, baths, and water tanks.

Sanitation: It is the landlord’s duty to provide and maintain functional toilets as well as adequate sewerage and drainage systems.

Heating and Hot Water: Landlords must supply and maintain heating systems and a consistent source of hot water. Gas boilers and appliances should be checked annually, while electric boilers and heating systems should undergo inspection every five years.

Fire and Smoke Alarms: In properties where fire and smoke alarms are legally required, landlords must ensure their proper operation. Tenants should regularly check the alarms, and any faults should be promptly rectified by the landlord.

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By fulfilling these obligations, landlords contribute to providing a safe and comfortable living environment for their tenants. It’s crucial for landlords to remain knowledgeable about their responsibilities and promptly address any maintenance or repair issues to ensure compliance with the law and the well-being of their tenants.