Rental property maintenance – who is responsible?
One of the common causes of disputes between landlords and tenants is property maintenance, or more to the point, lack of! Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, it is important to know who is responsible for which areas, so we’ve created this handy guide …
If you are a landlord:
As a landlord it is essential for you to understand your legal obligations to ensure you take care of not only the property but also the safety and wellbeing of your tenant. In the worst case scenario, negligence over issues such as gas safety could literally be a matter of life and death, so it is important to know exactly where you stand.
Landlords are responsible for maintaining the following areas:
- Maintenance and repairs to all sanitary ware including baths, sinks, toilets pipes and blocked drains
- Ensuring the property has adequate heating and hot water supplies
- Fire safety, including smoke alarms
- Gas appliance safety including carbon monoxide alarms, gas appliance servicing, pipes, flues and ventilation
- Maintenance and repairs of all electrical wiring
- Building and exterior maintenance
- Any damage caused by you (eg. botched repairs etc.)
If you need to access the property in order to carry out any maintenance or repairs you must let your tenant know at least 24 hours in advance.
Landlords are also normally responsible for maintaining and repairing any shared areas, eg. staircases and hallways in flats. This should be clearly set out in the tenancy agreement to avoid disputes further down the line.
If you are a tenant:
It is important to remember that as a tenant you shouldn’t carry out any repairs or make any changes to a property without first obtaining the landlord’s permission. You also have a duty to allow access to the property to enable the landlord to carry out any repairs or maintenance necessary, but your landlord must give you prior notice as outlined above.
Do not let your landlord try to put the onus on you for arranging for repairs that they themselves should take responsibility for, as listed above, or make you pay for any of these.
If repairs are required, you should contact your landlord at the earliest opportunity to let them know, and immediately if it involves anything that could be hazardous, for example a gas fire problem or an electrical fault.
If essential repairs are not carried out, and you feel your safety and wellbeing is at risk as a result, you should contact your local council’s housing department who will conduct a check on your behalf and ensure any necessary work is carried out.
You are responsible for any damage you may cause to another’s property, for example if a water leak damages the flat below you. You are also responsible for any damage caused by your friends or family.
The law states you should behave in a ‘tenant-like way’ which broadly means respecting the property by keeping it clean, not causing any damage, and using fixtures and fittings properly.
Hopefully if landlords and tenants both understand their rights and responsibilities, this will go a long way to avoiding any future disputes.
If you need anymore information, please feel free to contact us.