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Landlord Rights and Responsibilities in Durham County, UK

Most tenancies, nowadays, are governed by assured, or assured shorthold, tenancy agreements. These agreements can be written, or oral, but form a legally binding contract between a landlord and his, or her, tenant(s), affording certain rights to either side in return for certain responsibilities.

The most basic right of any landlord, of course, is to receive rent for letting his, or her, accommodation. Above and beyond that, however, a landlord has a right to "reasonable access" to a property to carry out repairs and, provided he, or she, gives 24 hours` notice, the right to access for the purposes of inspection, or emptying coin operated electricity or gas meters, etc.. A landlord is not legally entitled to entry into a property under any other circumstances, except with a court order.

However, a landlord must, by law, ensure that all gas appliances are maintained in good working order and checked at least once a year by a CORGI ("Council for Registered Gas Installers") certified tradesman. He, or she, is similarly responsible for structural and exterior repairs to the property and the maintenance of central heating and hot water systems, baths, showers, toilets, etc., provided that the work is not the result of negligence, or wilful misuse, on the part of the tenant.

One of the most common disputes between landlords and tenants arises from the refusal, by the landlord, to repay some, or all, of the deposit paid by the tenant at the start of the tenancy. The deposit is held as security against rent arrears and damage to property, but should be returned, in full, if there are no arrears and the property is left in good condition. Thankfully, any deposit paid after 6th April, 2007 is safeguarded by Tenant Deposit Protection, which ensures that tenants receive their deposit back, if they are entitled to it and provides formal, legal procedures for the resolution of disputes. This, of course, does not affect a landlords`s legal right to charge rent up to the date when notice should have expired, or, for a fixed term tenancy agreement, the date when the agreement should have expired, if a tenant leaves without adequate notice.

Landlords interested in letting their property through a housing association, or local authority, may be interested to know that the Government has set a target of 2010 for a countrywide scheme, known as Choice Based Letting (CBL) to be operational. Social landlords and letting agents in Durham, for example, have been working in partnership for over three years to provide a scheme that advertises properties across the whole of County Durham.

 

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