Sections 21 and 22: Landlord obligations and tenant rights

Landlords can incur many day-to-day expenses when managing rental property, particularly larger buildings that have communal areas and multiple tenants. Sometimes, they pass on these costs to tenants through additional fees or an increased rent rate. However, landlords must always ensure any service charges they impose are fair. Section 21 and Section 22 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 aim to ensure transparency in service charges and to protect tenants from unfair practices. In this article, we’ll identify the rights and responsibilities landlords and their tenants have while remaining compliant with the relevant legislation.

What are Sections 21 and 22 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985?

In the UK, Section 21 and Section 22 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 are important laws devised to protect tenants from unfair practices while ensuring transparency in the financial management of rental properties.

Section 21 gives tenants the right to request a summary of the service charge account from their landlord. This allows tenants to see a breakdown of the costs a landlord has incurred over the previous accounting period and permits them to verify the fairness of any charges the landlord asked them to pay.

Section 22 gives tenants the right to inspect further information regarding the summary of the service of accounts, including related documents, receipts, invoices, and contracts.

A landlord must cooperate with any requests from their tenants to see proof of the costs incurred.

What are the landlords’ responsibilities according to Sections 21 and 22?

Landlords have specific responsibilities under Section 21 and Section 22 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

They include:

Comply with requests for a summary of service charge accounts

After receiving a request to see a summary of the service charge accounts, landlords should respond with the summary within one month of the request or within six months of the end of the period the summary relates to (whichever comes later). Failure to meet this deadline is a criminal offence.

Ensure the summary is certified by a qualified accountant

If the property contains ‘more than four dwellings’, then the landlord must ensure the summary of service charge accounts has been certified by a qualified accountant who is also a registered auditor. This verifies that the financial information within the summary is accurate.

Allow access to supporting documents

If requested, the landlord must also give the tenant access to supporting documents like receipts, invoices, and contracts.

Provide facilities for inspection

The landlord must also provide facilities for the tenant to inspect the supporting documents at a place and a time that is reasonable and convenient for both parties.

Charge a reasonable fee for copies of documents

The landlord may charge the tenant a fee for providing copies of any of the supporting documents. However, the landlord must ensure the fee is fair and accurately reflects the cost.

What rights does a tenant have, according to Sections 21 and 22?

Sections 21 and 22 grant tenants specific rights concerning access to service charge accounts.

They are:

The right to request a summary of the service charge accounts

According to Section 21 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, the tenant has the right to request from their landlord a summary of the service charge accounts.

The right to inspect further information

According to Section 22, after obtaining the summary of service charge accounts, tenants have the right to request and inspect further, more detailed information about the costs. This could include documents, invoices, receipts, and contracts. These documents should be made available to tenants for two months.

The right to copies of the documentation

If required, the tenant has the right to request copies of the documentation.

The right to facilities for inspection

The landlord must make these documents available for inspection at a time and place that is convenient for the tenant.

Ensuring compliance with Sections 21 and 22 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

To ensure compliance with Sections 21 and 22 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords should focus on providing a service that’s fair and transparent while keeping detailed and up-to-date records of all service charge expenditures.

That includes:

  • Maintaining detailed and accurate records of expenditures
  • Prepare clear service charge accounts
  • Certify accounts when necessary
  • Provide tenants with a summary and supporting documents promptly when requested
  • Communicate transparently with tenants regarding service charges
  • Stay informed about any legal changes

For further help or advice regarding Section 21 or Section 22 of the Landlord and Tenant Act, landlord responsibilities, or tenant rights, don’t hesitate to contact our team of experts at Mistoria Estate Agents.

You can call us by dialling 0800 500 3015.

Our specialist team provides property management solutions, helping landlords in the North West of England to maximise their returns.

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