Private landlords

One of the biggest changes to tenement and flat living in the past few years has been the increase in the number of flats which are rented out rather than owner-occupied.

Landlords are heavily regulated, more so than other types of owners, and this means they have incentives to deal with common repairs.

All private landlords need to be registered and to follow a large number of rules and regulations relating to how they run tenancies. This means that a landlord can have a lot to lose if repairs aren’t carried out, particularly if their rented flat is affected adversely. Any letting agent they use must also be registered and show that they are a ‘fit and proper person’.

For owner-occupiers, contacting private landlords may be the biggest problem.

While many landlords are happy to pay their share of common repair costs as soon as they are asked, some landlords, just like many other owners, fail to budget enough for repairs when they buy their flat. Saving towards a maintenance plan after carrying out a good property inspection is a benefit to all types of owner in helping budget for repairs.

Private landlords commissioning repairs will have additional health and safety responsibilities to take into account, over and above those that apply to owner-occupiers, as they are considered to be businesses. Apart from that, all other rights and responsibilities apply equally to landlords as owner -occupiers.

Registration of landlords

All landlords should be registered. It is an offence not to be. If you are struggling to contact a landlord, you can use the landlord register. If they are not on the register, contact the Private Renting section of your council, which is probably part of the Housing Service. In some councils, Environmental Health Officers may deal with landlord registration.

Letting agents

Many landlords use letting agents to manage their properties. Letting agents now also have to be registered and follow a Code of Practice. Even unregistered letting agents need to follow this Code. Among other things, the Code places a responsibility on letting agents to complete repairs. Letting agents can be held liable if repair obligations are not met. They also have responsibility to use qualified and reputable trades firms.

Some landlords have a contract with their letting agent which takes away the letting agent’s responsibility for repairs. You can ask the letting agent for proof of this if it is the case. If the landlord does not carry out repairs, the letting agent must refuse to continue to work for them.

Apply to the First Tier Tribunal (Housing Chamber) to enforce the Letting Agent Code of Practice.

Repairing standards

Landlords need to meet high standards of repair. While most of these standards relate to the inside of the property, it is possible to use the Repairing Standard to enforce some common repairs, especially if the lack of common repair affects the tenant.

Houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs)

If the flat is to be let to more than three unrelated tenants, it is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). Further regulations apply and the landlord needs a license. In other cases, the title deeds may not permit use of the flat by more than one family.

Tenants’ behaviour

If you are having problems with tenants, ask the landlord to deal with the issue, whether it is a matter of people not knowing when to put the bins out or tenants being antisocial in their behaviour. A landlord who doesn’t deal with such issues may be taken off the register.

Are landlords who arrange common repairs acting as factors?

Some private landlords have concerns that they might have to register as factors if they regularly arrange common repairs or common insurance. If a private landlord co-owner has such concerns, ask them to give guidance and assistance to owner-occupiers.

Further guidance
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