Many people often decide that as an alternative to purchasing their own home, they will enter into a relationship with a landlord as their tenant. Equally, many people view the prospect of offering accommodation to would-be tenants in exchange for a guaranteed income as a very attractive proposition. The relationship between a landlord and tenant is a very unique one, that need not be complex.
Here we provide an overview of what it means to be either a landlord or a tenant, and what the process of entering into this kind of relationship involves. At Miller Samuel Hill Brown, we have a specialist team of Property lawyers who are ready to assist you in understanding your role as a landlord or a tenant. We will work in partnership with you so to ensure that you are aware of all of your respective rights and responsibilities.
What is the relationship between a landlord and tenant?
Both landlords and tenants are private individuals who agree to a set of conditions under a written document, called a Tenancy Agreement, that provides each person(s) with a set of rights and responsibilities. The owner of a private property, i.e. a landlord, is offering someone else, i.e. a would-be tenant, to live in that property for a set period of time in exchange for monthly payment. This sum of money is the ‘rent’.
In signing a Lease, both a Landlord and their Tenant are required to abide by the terms set down in it for the duration of the tenancy. It is essentially a contract that is agreed between the two parties, but is specific to the use of the property in question.
What is involved in being a Landlord?
A landlord is someone who will be offering accommodation to would-be tenants in a flat/house that they own, in exchange for monthly payment of rent. There are a number of things that need to be considered before they start to operate as a Landlord, and keep in mind when taking on tenants:
- Register with the Local Authority
Before advertising a property as being available to rent, a Landlord must be registered with their Local Authority. It is very important that this is done as soon as possible: if they fail to register as a Landlord before they accept a tenant into their property then they are doing so illegally. This can result in a substantial fine being issued against an unregistered Landlord.
- Deciding on what kind of tenancy to offer
It is not enough for a Landlord to want to offer a tenancy - they will need to set out the kind of tenancy that is available, and comply with the related rules and regulations.
The most common kind of tenancy offered by Landlords is a Short Assured Tenancy (SAT) which will be for a period of at least six months. Landlords that offer SATs are required by law to provide tenants with a Tenant Information Pack which sets out:
- The condition of the property;
- The rights and responsibilities of both parties; and
- The details of the Tenancy Agreement
- Deciding on how many people to offer tenancy to
Offering a tenancy to more than one person means that Landlords must comply with other rules. Arguably the most important is the need to apply for a House in Multiple Occupation Licence (HMO) from the Local Authority.
Applying for this Licence means that the Local Authority will inspect your premises to assess a number of things before the licence is issued, including: (i) someone’s suitability as an individual to be granted an HMO; (ii) how the premises is maintained and; (iii) the condition of the premises itself.
- Observing the rules
When a Landlord accepts a tenant into their property under a Tenancy Agreement, they then need to comply with the rules. This will include taking responsibility, as is normally the case, for maintaining and repairing the property, e.g. ensuring hot water and heating is available; keeping a note of all gas and electricity checks, and providing fire resistant furniture for the property.
What is involved in being a tenant?
As a tenant is taking up residence in a privately owned property in exchange for payment of rent, they do have a number of rights which their Landlord must observe. However they too have a number of responsibilities:
- Making Rent Payments
It is a tenant’s responsibility to make the regular and timeous payment of rent when it falls due. Depending on the terms of the Tenancy Agreement this may either be due weekly or monthly, although monthly rent tends to be more common. If a tenant fails to make payment of rent as it falls due, this can have implications for them and a Landlord may be entitled to take measures to get payment of this.
Landlords are entitled by law to evict tenants that fail to make rental payments, provided that they follow the correct process.
- Caring for a property
In exchange for being given entitlement to stay in a property a tenant is expected to keep the property in good condition. This includes keeping the property clean and not intentionally causing damage to the property. It is also a tenant’s responsibility to report any damage or other problems that arise e.g. leaking of water or a problem with the heating to the landlord.
The important point to remember is that the Tenant-Landlord relationship is essentially a type of contract between individuals: accommodation in exchange for payment. There are a number of rules that apply to being a Tenant or Landlord and it is advisable that you are familiar with these before you enter into this kind of relationship.
Contact our Landlords and Tenants Lawyers Scotland
Here at Miller Samuel Hill Brown we have experts in property law. If you are considering becoming a landlord or tenant, or are unsure of your rights and responsibilities, please contact us. We are here to help. Our property lawyers will be able to advise you on your situation, and can give you advice on the drafting and meaning of the terms of your Tenancy Agreement. Please contact our specialist property solicitors on 01412211919.