What Is the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985?

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landlord tenant act

As a tenant, you often feel powerless when it comes to your rights. Unsure about how long you have to stay, worried about who pays for the repairs, and stressed about whether your rent will go up. The Land and Tenant Act 1985 defines all the rights and obligations a landlord has to their tenants and in our easy guide, we’ll walk you through your rights as a tenant.

landlord and tenant act

What is the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985?

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 is a piece of legislation that sets out the obligations and rights for both tenants and landlords when it comes to renting. These are also known as the implied rights that aren’t necessarily written into tenancy agreements, but are the minimum standards required by law.

Especially if you’re renting, it can be difficult to know and understand what your rights are when living in a rental property. It can be intimidating if it’s your first time renting and you’re unsure about what you can and can’t do. The Landlord and Tenant Act helps define exactly what your rights are.


What Does the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 Cover?

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 covers all aspects of a rental arrangement between both a landlord and tenant, and particularly in regards to repairs. The act generally applies to the following types of lease agreements:

  • Shorthold Assured Tenancy Agreements
  • Non-Fixed Agreements
  • Tenancies that last less than 7 years

If you have a tenancy agreement longer than 7 years, these are typically covered as leaseholds that are part of blocks of flats.

What About the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987? In 1987, there were some amendments made to the 1985 act, but nothing that significantly changed the rights of landlords and tenants. The amendments introduced clearer rules for leaseholders going through courts and further guidelines for landlords issuing service charges.

What Is Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985?

Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act is likely to be the most important part for tenants since it defines the exact responsibilities that landlords have in regards to carrying out repairs on the property.

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What Does Section 11 Mean?

According to Landlord and Tenant Act Section 11, a landlord is liable for all the basic repairs in property. This means that they are obligated by law to carry out repairs and they cannot write a tenancy agreement that excludes them from doing so.

In other words, if you need repairs done, even if you discover your tenancy agreement says something else, your landlord has to provide them. Section 11 also applies to public housing with a social landlord renting out a council house.

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What Does Section 11 Not Cover?

There are some situations in which Section 11 doesn’t apply and either you will have to pay for the repairs yourself or make other arrangements. These however are not typical tenancies and the vast majority of agreements will be covered by the act.

The cases where Section 11 doesn’t apply are:

  • Tenancies agreed before 1961
  • Business tenancies
  • Government-related tenancies
  • Tenancies related to farming and agriculture

Have you been asked to sign an inventory? Although not a legal obligation, many landlords will provide an inventory checklist to their new tenants to double check the condition of the property, furniture and other facilities when they arrive. When you leave the property, you complete another inventory to make sure they are the same and that’s been no major deterioration.

To find out more check out our Inventory Checks guide!

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What Repairs Are a Landlord Responsible for in the UK?

According to Section 11, your landlord is responsible for basic repairs of the property and they are obligated to carry them out if there's an issue. The repairs that landlord’s are most responsible for are related to the structure of the property, but also covering sanitation and utilities.

What Counts as Basic Repairs?

Basic repairs normally include the following:

  1. Maintenance
    Your landlord has to make sure everything in the property is in a good working condition. They need to make sure that there’s regular maintenance to ensure the property is affected by more damages due to the disrepair. Maintenance usually includes examples such as making sure sealant is in place, doors open and close correctly, and there’s no mould on the walls.
  2. Structure and Exterior
    A landlord also has the responsibility to make sure the structure of the property is sound and there are no outstanding issues that would endanger the stability of the building. This means maintaining the internal structure of the walls and staircases to make sure they are regularly checked.
  3. Facilities and Installations
    Boilers, radiators, gas connections, electricity wiring, plumbing are all included in the responsibility of the landlord. They have a duty to keep these looked after and make sure they are functioning properly. This also extends to the central heating system and the bathroom facilities.

How Long Do Landlords Have To Fix Mould?

If you spot mould in your rented home, you must inform your landlord straight away. Take pictures and inform them of any damage that might have occurred to your clothes or other belongings.

Once they’ve been informed, your landlord will have 14 days to fix the mould. You’ll usually need to arrange for an inspection of the property to assess damage from the mould. If your landlord doesn’t respond within 14 days, you should report it to your local authority who can force it through.

The responsibility of the mould can vary due to how it was caused. If the mould is found to be from a leakage from a structural pipe, your landlord would have the responsibility to sort it out. If however it’s been down to you not ventilating the property properly, you could be held responsible for the repair.

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Is It a Landlord's Responsibility To Fix a Washing Machine?

If the washing machine belongs to your landlord and was installed by them, then they would have to repair it for you if it breaks down due to regular use. If however the washing machine has been broken by something you’ve done, you will likely have to pay to fix it.

Can My Landlord Leave Me Without a Toilet?

Since 1989, basic sanitation facilities such as the toilet, shower, bathtub and sink are required inside a property. Any issues with the plumbing of the property such as leaky taps or pipes you should report straight away for your landlord to fix.

Just moved in and no water? If you’ve just moved into a rented property and you have no running water, don’t panic! You should contact your landlord straight away as they may have just turned off the water while the property was empty.

For more information about what to do, check out our No Water in House guide!

local council

Who Enforces the Landlord and Tenant Act?

Since the repairs and other landlord-tenant issues are related to housing, the responsibility for enforcing the Landlord and Tenant Act is your local council. If you have a situation where you think your landlord isn’t doing what they are required to do by law, you can get in touch with your local council.

What If the Property Is Unfit?

It could be the case that your local council may consider your property unfit if the living conditions do not meet a certain standard. This can include a property that is unsuitable for human habitation or that has a structural issue that puts your life in danger. If you think this is the case, you should contact your local council immediately.

What Can I Do If My Landlord Doesn't Fix Things?

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Of course, we can have as many laws as we like, but if our landlord refuses to do anything about the issue, they may break the law. Even the best rental websites can’t keep us away from bad landlords.

If you’ve got a problem with your property that needs repairing and your landlord is either ignoring you or refusing to do the repairs, there are a number of things you can do to get them to comply with the Landlord and Tenant Act.

  1. Collect Evidence
    Most importantly, you must collect evidence of the issue you’re having in the property. Take photos and make records of everything you can, including witnesses. Make sure you keep and save any emails or text messages you have with your landlord discussing the issue.
  2. Remind Your Landlord of Their Responsibilities
    Write to your landlord and remind them of their obligations according to Section 11. Even if it doesn’t do any good, it is still good for you to show you tried resolving the issue peaceably before taking further action. You should give your landlord a deadline to respond.
  3. Get Quotes for the Repairs
    Contact some relevant companies to come and assess the price of the repairs. Get quotes from several different companies so you have a good idea of how much it would cost to repair it. Make sure to record them all to send them to your landlord.
  4. Contact Your Local Council
    If your landlord fails to respond after your deadline, you should contact your local council who will have a private renting team on hand. Your landlord will be forced to make the repairs by the local council.
  5. Consider Legal Action
    If push comes to shove at last, do consider taking legal action against your landlord. A court summons means your landlord would have to face the issue and they will either be forced to fix the problem or pay you compensation.

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