So what are a landlord’s responsibilities for repairs and maintenance?

by Rizwan Osman on 7th September 2020

Landlords are responsible for most repairs and maintenance in a rental home. Since a change in the law in March 2019, they must also ensure the property is fit to live in throughout the tenancy. Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

Landlords are obliged to carry out repairs once they have been informed about them by tenants BUT there are some things which may not be required to repair, unless specifically mentioned in your tenancy agreement or if it involves negligence by the tenant or their visitors.

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Which repairs are the landlord’s responsibility?

The below is a list (but not exhaustive of) what you must maintain and repair as a Landlord:

  • All electrical, wiring and electrical appliances
  • All gas works and gas appliances
  • All heating and hot water
  • Any/all chimneys and ventilation
  • All drains guttering and external pipework
  • The structure and exterior of the building, including walls, stairs and bannisters, roof, external doors and windows.

You are responsible for all structural problems, but not a broken window caused by a tenant’s negligence, for example. Once a problem has been fixed, you’ll need to put right the decoration too in line with when they took over the tenancy, like for like essentially.

Additional responsibilities

You may also be responsible for fixing/replacing white goods including fridges, washing machines and cookers etc, but this is only the case if included in the inventory and forms part for the tenancy. Upon possession.

Health and safety responsibilities

You need to make sure that the property is safe and free from hazards. For all tenancies signed after 20 March 2019, the landlord must ensure the home is fit to live in – in other words, that it won’t adversely affect the health or cause injury to the tenants and that there are no issues to prevent them from making full use of the home. If the tenant believes you haven’t fulfilled your responsibilities, they can take you to court.

Issues which might make the property unfit for habitation include:

Damp and mould

You are responsible for carrying out the structural repairs needed to prevent damp. These could include fixing the causes of penetrating damp, such as leaking internal pipes, faulty guttering or external pipes or cracks in walls and window frames.

You should also ensure there’s a proper working damp-proof course to tackle rising damp and carry out any repairs to the heating and ventilation that are causing condensation.

It’s important that your tenants understand that they should inform you immediately about any damp, so you can investigate and rectify the problem before damage is caused. Otherwise they could be liable.

Rats, mice and pests

You are responsible for carrying out repairs to prevent rats, mice, cockroaches or other pests from getting into the property – by repairing holes in walls, broken air vents etc. You also need to act if the infestation makes the home unfit for habitation.

Gas safety

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You need to make sure that the gas supply and all gas appliances in the property are in a safe condition. They should be fitted, repaired and checked every year by a Gas Safe-registered engineer. This applies to gas pipework, gas cookers, gas boilers, gas fires and gas water heaters.

Electrical installations and appliances

You also need to make sure that wiring, plug sockets and any electrical appliances which you have provided are safe.

You should organise an inspection by a qualified electrician before your tenants move in, followed by regular basic safety checks. Checked appliances should have a portable appliance test (PAT) sticker on the plug, showing the date tested and when the next inspection is due.

Fire safety

As well as checking electrical wiring and appliances, you must make sure that any upholstered furniture you provide is fire resistant. Landlords can be fined and sent to prison if they don’t follow fire safety regulations.

There should be working smoke alarms on each floor and carbon monoxide detectors in any room heated by solid fuel.

Your tenants’ responsibilities

Your tenants are solely responsible for repairs to items which they own as well as minor issues such as replacing batteries in smoke alarms. They are also responsible for any damaged caused by them or their guests, whether deliberate or due to inevitable accidents, but they aren’t liable for normal wear and tear – a new carpet that shows signs of use for example. If your tenant damages something you can offer to fix it and charge them for it upon mutual agreement.

If you’re new to renting out property and need some advice, we can help you avoid the pitfalls of being trapped or paying for unnecessary works that may in fact be a tenant responsibility. We can make sure everything runs smoothly for you and offer any advice you may need. To find out more about our services for landlords please contact us at Credential anytime.