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

  13 OCTOBER, 2020      INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
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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.

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