Landlords Responsibilities

Most residential tenancies are assured tenancies, assured shorthold tenancies, or in the case of Wales, occupation contracts.

The most important obligation of a landlord in relation to repairs applying to these types of tenancies are set out under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (as amended). This requires that landlords of most tenancies must keep the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house in repair, and keep the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating and heating water in good repair and proper working order. A landlord’s obligation in relation to these things are implied by law, therefore the tenancy agreement does not have to clarify that the landlord is liable to keep these things in repair.

Failing to keep the property in good repair could result in the let property being deemed unfit for human habitation under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2019.

Fitness for human habitation

The question when deciding on whether unfitness for human habitation is whether a property is ‘not reasonably suitable for occupation in its condition’ because of one or more of the following factors: [1]

  • repairs

  • freedom from damp

  • internal arrangement

  • natural lighting

  • ventilation

  • water supply

  • drainage and sanitary conditions

  • stability

  • facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water

  • any ‘prescribed hazard’ – this is defined as any matter or circumstance amounting to a category 1 or 2 hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

Government non-statutory guidance for tenants, landlords and local authorities details the kind of problems which may render a property unfit under these provisions.

Non-contractual liability

The landlord can be liable for disrepair that is not covered by the terms of the tenancy. This liability arises most commonly from the torts of negligence and nuisance, and the Defective Premises Act 1972.


Where a local authority carries out an inspection of rented housing and finds that it contains ‘hazards’. the authority may take enforcement action against the landlord. In addition, landlords have specific responsibilities in respect to gas and electrical safety, fire safety, furnishings, asbestos, refuse and vermin.


The landlord of a house in multiple occupation also has further responsibilities regarding fire safety, management, the number of occupiers and the condition of the property.

Parts of property retained for occupation by the landlord

The landlord also has certain responsibilities for parts of the property which they have retained for their own occupation: this could be a room in the property or common parts such as a courtyard or the roof.

Tenant rights and remedies

Where a let property is in disrepair or unfit for human habitation, the tenant may take legal against for breach of contract.

The tenant can apply for an order for specific performance requiring the landlord to carry out necessary repairs and to claim damages.


[1] s.10(1) Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, as amended by s.1(4) Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

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