Landlord vs tenant: who’s responsible for what in a rental property?

Image of a landlord and a couple after signing a rental agreement

We’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions around landlord responsibilities vs tenant responsibilities to help everyone know where they stand.

What does the tenancy agreement cover?

Tenants' rights and landlord rights are set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act, which covers all short leases and tenancies agreed for less than seven years.

Under the act, a landlord is responsible for repairs. However, a landlord can choose to issue a tenant with responsibilities that they’re not legally required to meet, such as maintaining the garden. 

How much is the landlord responsible for the home’s quality?

Under the Renter’s Reform Bill 2022, landlords are responsible for creating homes that reach The Decent Homes Standard. 

Details are set to release in late 2022, but landlords will now have a legal expectation to create safe, warm homes for tenants. 

It establishes a legally binding level of quality, and it means the landlord has more responsibility for maintaining the home’s safety. 

However, tenants will still be expected to keep the property in a clean, well-maintained state. 

Is landlord insurance the same as home insurance?

Landlord insurance covers your buildings and contents while tenants rent your property.

It may cover additional risks associated with renting your property, such as:

  • loss of rent if your property is not fit to be lived in after a claim
  • accidental damage caused by your tenants

You can add extra protection to your policy, such as landlord legal protection which includes legal disputes like pursuing rent arrears and property disputes.

Landlords must follow the usual checks like tenant referencing even with this insurance. Otherwise, it can cause problems if they need to claim.

Is landlord insurance compulsory?

Landlord insurance isn’t compulsory, although most buy-to-let mortgage providers require property owners to at least take out buildings cover, to protect the bricks and mortar of the property.

Some landlords also take out contents insurance, which covers furnishings, carpets and appliances, although many expect the tenant to cover their own contents.

If you’re living in a shared house or flat, check out renters insurance, which protects your belongings against theft or damage.

Does the landlord pay for repairs and maintenance?

Landlords must keep the property in ‘good repair’ throughout the tenancy according to the Landlord and Tenant Act.

Tenants must give the landlord access to the property to inspect it or carry out repairs. Landlords must give at least 24 hours’ notice and visits must be made at a reasonable time of day, unless in an emergency.

Is the landlord responsible for carbon monoxide alarms?

Yes. Landlords must install a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that is considered living accommodation and contains a fuel appliance.

By October 1st, 2022, landlords will be responsible for installing carbon monoxide alarms in any room with a fixed combustion appliance.

Landlords will also be responsible for repairing and replacing faulty alarms. However, tenants must inform them first.

Does the landlord pay for pest control?

The landlord’s responsible for making sure pests such as mice, rats, wasps and hornets don’t get into a home, and also for dealing with an outbreak.

If you’re renting, your landlord or landlady should be told of an infestation as soon as possible. Homeowners should call their local council or a pest control company immediately so the problem can be dealt with quickly. Pests are covered by Landlord Emergency Cover, with some exclusions.

Read our guides on how to tackle common pests in the home:

Who’s responsible for the gas and electrics?

Landlords are responsible for:

  • Gas
  • Electrics
  • Water, including boilers and hot water tanks
  • Sockets
  • Light fittings
  • Appliances, if provided

They must make sure all gas equipment is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer, with an annual gas safety check on each appliance and flue.

Does the landlord pay council tax?

Council tax is usually paid by the tenant. However, there are some special circumstances in which the landlord is responsible, including where the property is an HMO (house in multiple occupation) such as students and where the occupants are asylum seekers.

Is a landlord responsible for the garden fence?

This is a slightly grey area and depends on whether any damage to the fence poses a safety risk or not. A landlord’s responsible for the structure of the property and that extends to the exterior, with an obligation to protect tenants’ safety and wellbeing.

If a tenant requests repairs to cosmetic damage, however, the landlord doesn’t have to foot the bill.

When it comes to maintaining the garden, unless something different is stated in a tenancy agreement, tenants are normally responsible for basic garden maintenance such as weeding and mowing the lawn.

Is the landlord responsible for home security?

Landlords are governed by fire safety regulations and must provide at least one smoke alarm on each storey and, as mentioned, a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance such as a coal fire or wood burning stove.

They must also make sure access to escape routes and any furniture and furnishings supplied are fire safe.

The landlord must also make sure a home is secure, including all door and window locks, garages and sheds.

Is the landlord responsible for damp and mould?

The landlord’s responsible for damp and sometimes for condensation, if, for example, it’s caused by poor ventilation.

However, tenants are also responsible for making sure their behaviour doesn’t contribute to condensation, such as blocking vents.

Condensation itself isn’t a problem, but it can lead to mould in your property, which can become toxic if untreated.

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