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Rental Property Repairs & Maintenance: What Are You Responsible For?

If there's one thing which causes confusion between landlords and tenants, it's who’s responsible for repairs and maintenance. And that confusion will often bloom into disputes and ill-feeling. But nailing down exactly who is responsible for what at the start of the tenancy can prevent any disputes further down the line.

Landlords have many of their responsibilities laid down in law. Specifically, in Section 11 of The Landlord and Tenant Act (1985).

The landlord will need to carry out the majority of repairs. Tenants, on the other hand, have a responsibly to not damage the property or fixtures and fittings. But landlords are only responsible for repairs they’re aware of. In other words, the tenant must report any maintenance issues. This is why a tenant must ensure they have the contact details of their landlord or online letting agent.

Your Tenancy Agreement

The tenancy agreement should spell out who is responsible for repairs and maintenance. However, anything in that agreement must be fair and reasonable. The landlord can't insist on a clause which says the tenant must repair the boiler if it breaks down for example. But in the event, the tenancy agreement is a little vague we've outlined the main responsibilities of both landlord and tenant below.

A Landlord's Responsibilities

The primary responsibility for a landlord is to provide a safe home. This is a bit of a catch-all. But it includes making sure the structure of the property is sound. And that any appliances and wiring are in good condition and safe to use.

However, since March 2019 private landlords have new responsibilities. They must make sure their rental property is 'fit for human habitation'. This applies to any tenancy signed since March 20, 2019. The rules will apply to all tenancies regardless of when they began from March 20, 2020.

A home is unfit for habitation if:

  • There is a risk to the tenant's health.
  • The tenant is at risk of injury.
  • A tenant can't enjoy full use of the home. A bedroom is uninhabitable or the stairs are dangerous for example.

    The new rules really reinforce what landlords already know. They must make sure the property and appliances are in good condition and safe to use. Specifically, this means the landlord must make repairs to:

  • The boiler and gas pipes. The landlord is also legally bound to make annual gas safety checks. Only approved gas safe engineers can do these checks. All pipework, appliances and flues must be safe and in good condition.
  • Electrical wiring. All wiring and sockets must be in good condition and safe to use.
  • Heating systems and hot water. The landlord must ensure the tenant always has access to water.
  • Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms if fitted.
  • The chimney. It must be maintained in good working order.
  • The toilet, bath and sinks including taps.
  • Pipes and drains.
  • Bannisters and stairs.
  • Appliances including white goods if supplied by the landlord.
  • The exterior structure including walls, roof, windows etc.

    A Tenant's Responsibilities

    If a tenant provides their own appliances or white goods it's their responsibility to maintain and repair them. This also applies to furniture. The tenant is also responsible for any damage caused either by themselves, members of their family or visitors to the property.

    The tenant must also look after the property and follow rules regarding reporting repairs. This includes:

  • Keeping the property clean.
  • Performing minor maintenance tasks such as replacing light bulbs etc.
  • Report repairs and maintenance issues to the landlord in a timely manner.
  • Allow reasonable access to the property to allow the landlord to carry out repairs and maintenance tasks.

    Paying For Repairs

    If a tenant makes any repairs to their own property, they must of course pay for those themselves. But the landlord pays for all other repairs. The exception to this is if the repairs are due to damage caused by the tenant. They must be paid for from the security deposit. If the amount paid on deposit is insufficient to cover the cost of repairs the tenant must pay the balance. If they don't do so the landlord will need to take legal action to recover their costs.

    Private landlords can find tenants in an average of 12 days by listing your property with MakeUrMove.

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