It's important to be aware of your responsibilities to your landlord. While many of these responsibilities will be explained in your tenancy agreement, there are also certain responsibilities which are outlined in law.
As a tenant, you are obliged to:
- pay your rent
- take care of the premises
- make good any damage caused by you or anybody lawfully visiting or living there
- adhere to the terms of your tenancy agreement
- keep the inside of the property in reasonable proper order.
Allowing your landlord access
Tenants in Northern Ireland are entitled to peaceful enjoyment of their property, but you do have to allow your landlord into the property to inspect the premises and carry out repairs. If your landlord, or someone working on your landlord's behalf, needs access to the property, you should be given at least 24 hours' notice.
Check your tenancy agreement to see what it says about access. Some tenancy agreements will include a term which requires that tenants allow the landlord or the agent access to the property during the last month of the tenancy to show prospective new tenants around. Even if this term is in your agreement, you should still be given at least 24 hours' notice of any viewing. If the term says that you aren't entitled to notice or says that viewings can happen at any stage during the tenancy, this could be an unfair term. Unfair tenancy terms aren't enforceable and should be reported to Trading Standards at the Department for Enterprise, Trade & Investment.
You have a responsibility to report repairs to your landlord. If you notice something that something isn't working properly or has been damaged, you should let your landlord know, even if it's a relatively small issue. Keep a note of when you notified your landlord.
Take care of the premises
You should look after the property and keep it in a relatively clean state. You'll be responsible for certain minor repairing works, like unblocking sinks and changing lightbulbs and fuses. You should also make sure that you look after and clean any appliances the landlord provides, like ovens, microwaves or fridges.
Keep your landlord in the loop
It's a good idea to let your landlord know if you're going to be absent from the property for a period of time. You're not legally required to do this, unless your tenancy agreement says you have to. However, this can be important, particuarly during cold spells, as your landlord may need to get into the property to turn the heat on and prevent pipes freezing.
You should also let your landlord know if your rent is going to be late. Again, there's no legal requirement for you to do this, but your relationship with your landlord could suffer if you knew your rent would be late but didn't let the landlord know.
Your landlord's insurance won't cover any of your belongings. If the property is broken into, flooded or damaged in a fire you won't get any compensation from the landlord. Make sure you get your own contents insurance and keep this up to date.