What is classed as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and other information for tenants

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Being a landlord is not the easy route to riches that many people believe it is, there's a lot of legal responsibility that comes with being a landlord and they should really be aware of all of these rules and regulations.

The rules vary between the types of tenancy that has been agreed but the basic rules are the same for all tenants and tenancy agreements.

Possibly the most important legal obligation landlords have is to legally protect a tenant's deposit.

The landlord must do this in one of three government-approved deposit protection schemes for all assured shorthold tenants. Failure to do this within a set time period could lead to a fine and compensation for the tenant.

If the landlord fails to protect the deposit at all, the tenant has the legal right to sue for damages.

What happens when a tenancy ends

Once the tenancy comes to an end, the landlord must return your deposit immediately unless there is a dispute at which point the protection scheme will withhold the deposit and help to resolve the dispute.

One of the biggest causes for dispute is about the damage caused to a property but landlords need to appreciate that what the courts consider to be fair wear and tear during a tenancy is probably very different to theirs.

While a landlord will need to access the property to inspect it on a regular basis, they cannot do so without giving at least 24 hours’ notice. A landlord cannot disturb a tenant unnecessarily and their visit must be at a suitable time for the tenant.

Should a tenant discover that a landlord is accessing the property without permission, they should seek advice about what they can do to prevent this happening.

Landlord harassment of tenant

Landlords should also be aware that turning up unannounced could be deemed as harassment by a court and they cannot enter at unsuitable times or without permission. They also cannot stop a tenant from using all of the rooms in the property and they cannot prevent a tenant from using electricity or water.

Landlords have a legal responsibility for ensuring that the property is not only safe for tenants but is also comfortable too.

Any repairs that are needed should be carried out promptly and landlords will be responsible for repairs to the exterior and structure of property including the chimney, walls, guttering, roof and drains.

Landlords also need to keep the equipment for the supply of gas, water and electricity in safe and good working order. It is their legal responsibility for ensuring the safety of the tenants which means that if there is a gas appliance in the property then it needs a gas safety certificate which is an annual inspection.

Tenants should look at their tenancy agreement to see what they are responsible for, it's likely to cover internal decorations and carrying out small jobs such as changing lightbulbs and plugs. Most tenants will find that they are also responsible for keeping the garden in good condition.

A landlord must also ensure that the furniture, if the property is furnished, meet all regulatory fire standards.

Finally, a landlord should also ensure that any alleged equipment that they have provided for use in the property is actually safety to use.

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