What are the different maintenance responsibilities for domestic landlords and tenants?

letting agent signs

Tenants and domestic landlords both have responsibilities to ensure the reasonable upkeep of a rented property. Here is our guide to where the division of responsibilities lie.

A landlord's maintenance responsibilities 

Whether it be a private landlord, council, or housing association, by law, the landlord is responsible for most of the maintenance and repairs required in your rented home.

To undertake these works, a landlord is likely to employ a trade professional or a contractor (like Novus), depending on the scale of the maintenance required. 

What is a landlord responsible for? 

As previously alluded to, the landlord is responsible for the major maintenance and repair on the property – it is their property after all. This includes:

  • Electrical wiring 
  • Gas pipes and boilers
  • Heating and hot water
  • Chimneys and ventilation
  • Sinks, baths, toilets, pipes and drains
  • Entrance halls and stairways
  • The structure of the building, including walls, stairs, roof, external doors and windows
  • Generally keeping your home in a safe condition
  • Reasonable repairs

How long does a landlord have to do the repairs?

Landlords must carry out the repairs and maintenance in a reasonable period of time. This period of time depends largely on the extent of the repairs to be undertaken on the property.

Replacing a plug socket will inevitably take more time than replacing a roof for instance.

When can the landlord carry out repairs?

A landlord is obligated to schedule repairs to the property in advance.

The law says that landlords must give the tenant “quiet enjoyment of the property” and as such, they must schedule a convenient date and time with their tenant in which to carry out the maintenance – giving at least 24 hours’ notice.

The landlord can only enter the premises without prior notice or permission only in the event of an emergency such as a burst pipe or a fire.

What is the tenant responsible for?

Tenants have certain responsibilities for the general upkeep, maintenance and any minor repairs required within the rented property.

The tenant must look after the home as if it were their own property and behave in a “tenant-like manner.” This is an old term that basically encompasses the following responsibilities:

  • Keeping the home reasonably clean
  • Ensuring that the electrical appliances you own are in a safe condition (i.e. unlikely to cause fires due to faults)
  • Keeping the outside areas and garden of the home in a reasonable condition
  • Undertake reasonable minor maintenance such as changing light bulbs, testing, and changing smoke alarm batteries 
  • Repairing damage caused by yourself, your friends, family, and other guests.

The landlord might expect the tenant to pay to repair any significant damage they have caused, and this could be sourced from the security deposit received at the beginning of the tenancy.

Additionally, a tenant may be asked to pay for repairs to blocked drains, pipes, or toilets if reasonable care has not been taken to keep them free of blockages.

Proving negligence however can be difficult.

Overall, a tenant only has to reasonably maintain the condition that they found the house in, general wear and tear is also to be expected.

The aim should not be to leave it in a better condition than the landlord provided originally! 

Reporting issues to the landlord 

Beyond the simple maintenance tasks expected of the tenant, they are also expected to report any issues to the landlord or (if one is being used) the letting agent as soon as they become apparent.

Providing access to the property

The tenant is expected to provide access to the workers appointed to make the repairs on the property.

Tenants are entitled to at least 24 hours’ notice (preferably in writing) and for the works to take place at a time that is convenient and reasonable.

a helping hand from novus


As the construction sector remains open, Novus have been working through the latest lockdown. For those colleagues working from home at the moment, the importance of keeping morale high and maintaining the feeling of community cannot be overstated. In this article, we would like to share some of the initiatives that Novus have introduced to offer a ‘Helping Hand’ to colleagues during periods of lockdown this year. Before the virus Although working remotely has become the new normal amongst office workers in the UK and indeed our own business service departments, feelings of loneliness can be associated with this way of working. It is understandable, in a pre-covid world, it was estimated that people spent around 10 years of their life at work - in the office. During that time, it is only natural that strong working relationships and indeed friendships are formed and maintained by regular face-to-face contact. This daily face-to-face social interaction unquestionably aids in building the strong team that underpins organisational culture. And by extension, one could make the argument that the same strength simply cannot be achieved remotely, negatively affecting the culture within the business as a consequence. Smells like team spirit With this in mind, the first lockdown in March 2020 posed the challenge of maintaining the team spirit remotely, as one of our key values at Novus is to “create great teams.” It was quickly identified that this was a crucial area for support during lockdown, making sure our people still feel part of a team was a priority. A Helping Hand from Novus Regular communication is key and to that end, every week our communications team issue an internal newsletter called the “Helping Hand” to all colleagues in Novus. This weekly emailer features a wealth of helpful articles, videos, and tips, and company updates designed at helping everyone in the Novus community survive and thrive during lockdown. Under the categories A Time to Talk, A Time to Learn, A Time to Celebrate, A Time to Share, and A Time to Have Fun, colleagues will find help on improving physical wellbeing and mental health, strategies to manage finances, and even activities to try with the kids during half term. Originally introduced during the March lockdown, the Helping Hand was well received and experienced a high level of engagement. As such, the newsletter has been revived for the latest second lockdown. Finger on the pulse Our way of asking the people within Novus, “How are you doing?” In essence keeping our ‘finger on the pulse’ of the business. It is well established that feedback from colleagues is really important, after all they are the life blood of any organisation. In this time of change and flux, it feels like the perfect time to ask the people within the Novus community how the business can change to make working life better. That’s why we release a Pulse survey on a quarterly basis, as we believe that all colleagues should have something valuable to contribute and their voices and opinions should be heard. We’ve asked colleagues a whole host of questions this year - their opinions on remote working, what they’ve been up to during lockdown, their goals and aspirations, their concerns, and if there are any training requirements (to name just a few). Saying thanks and being visible Our CEO Alan Nixon and senior management team have remained visible over the course of 2020, providing video updates to the business and giving thanks for the hard work of colleagues. As with a lot of communications at Novus, we believe that putting a face/name/real person to a message really helps ground a piece of communication in reality and adds credibility. Additionally, in the absence of face-to-face contact, this is the next best thing to being spoken to directly. The current situation has encouraged our management team to innovate and adopt a more digital approach in daily activities. An example of this is found in our Head of Operations Charlie Cooley (Scotland and North East) who provides a weekly video update to his team via YouTube – giving that visible and personal touch to his leadership. Highlighting success and positive news The compliments and positive feedback that Novus receive from customers and tenants really are a testament to the hard work, dedication, and care that Novus colleagues put into their work on a daily basis. Particularly in 2020, we have increased the frequency of posting compliments via our social media channels as it gives everyone within Novus a lift, demonstrating and celebrating the high standard of service that our colleagues are providing – at the same time, this serves as another avenue of recognition for our hard working people.


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