Does my landlord have to make sure the house is safe and secure?

We're renting a house and we've recently been broken into. Although nothing was taken the investigating police officer highlighted a lot of security issues that make the house especially vulnerable. Is it up to us or our landlord to pay for the necessary updates, like locks on our doors, reinforced windows, and so on? Are there 'minimum safety requirements' the landlord is expected to provide?

Most people who rent privately and don’t share accommodation with their landlord are assured shorthold tenants. As the following information is based on the assumption that this is the case for you, you’ll need to seek further advice if you have a different type of tenancy.

There is no minimum-security requirement your landlord must adhere to. But your landlord has a legal responsibility to keep certain things in your property in good repair. If your landlord doesn’t carry out the repairs then there are several things that you can do to force them to do so.

Therefore, if any damage was caused to your home as a result of the burglary, your landlord may have a responsibility to repair the damage and should have insurance to cover repair to the things that belong to them. Your insurance should cover the things that belong to you.

Unfortunately, your landlord is not responsible for improvements to the security of the building. You could speak to your landlord about your concerns over the security of your home and ask whether they would be willing to help, however, they are under no obligation to do so.

If your landlord doesn’t agree to make the improvements, you could arrange and pay for new door locks to be fitted yourself, but you should keep the old ones because they are your landlord’s property. You should also ensure you don’t cause any damage whilst fitting them. If you want to arrange other improvements, such as fitting window locks or reinforced windows, you should get your landlord’s permission before doing so. It’s usually best to get any agreement made in writing, just in case there are any disagreements at a later date.

One important issue to consider before deciding what to do next is that – as an assured shorthold tenant – you can be evicted fairly easily once your initial fixed term has ended. Some landlords prefer to evict a tenant rather than sort out any problems but they must still follow the correct legal procedure if they want you to leave.

To find out more about how you can protect your home you can take a look at the information provided by the Metropolitan Police.

Answered by Shelter on 06-Mar-2014

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