Repair issues in a rental property can become a reason for endless disputes between tenants and landlords. Most of the time, we tend to jump into conclusions and blame the other side to protect our interests; however, are we always right? Whose responsibility is it to carry out the regular maintenance? Or, if a leak occurs, is it due to the tenants’ misuse or landlord’s negligence? And at the end of the day, who pays for property repairs and maintenance? 

To clear up who is financially responsible for damage, our team has prepared this dedicated post. 

Table of Contents:

So, if you:

  • Are a tenant or a landlord;
  • Want to know what your repairs obligations and responsibilities are;
  • Wish to find out if you are obliged to pay the maintenance costs.

Then this article is just for you. Keep on reading!

What are the landlord’s repairs responsibilities?

Landlord repairs responsibilities are entirely a legal matter. In fact, landlords owe tenants certain duties of care, like maintaining the property to prevent injuries or accidents. If the damage hasn’t been caused by the tenant’s negligence or misuse, the landlord is obliged to handle the major repairs in a rented property. Among them are:

  • The structure of the property – foundations, walls, roof, doors, windows;
  • Common areas, including entrance halls and stairways (if a landlord owns a block of flats);
  • Gas appliances, including heating systems and water heaters; 
  • Electrical wiring, consumer units, sockets, lighting;
  • Smoke and CO2 alarms;
  • Internal and external pipework, taps;
  • Bathroom fittings like toilets, baths, basins and sinks;
  • Gutters, chimneys, drainage;
  • Any damage caused by repair works;
  • Mould and damp, depending on what caused it to occur;
  • Repair of white goods;
  • Wear and tear of any items that are included in the inventory list.

What are the tenant’s repairs obligations?

When the tenancy agreement comes into power, the tenants are entitled to receive the property in a condition suitable for human habitation. However, if a landlord must provide a safe and functional property, renters should also understand their responsibilities regarding the facilities and equipment in that property. They include: 

  • Reasonably maintaining the property;
  • Minor maintenance, such as light bulb replacement or checking smoke alarm batteries;
  • Obtaining the landlord’s permission to make any changes within the property, like inserting nails, painting the walls, redecorating, etc.;
  • Inform the landlord of occurring damages and defects, preferably in written form;
  • Proper ventilation and heating;
  • Allowing access to the property for maintenance purposes;
  • Repairing appliances and furniture, owned by the tenants;
  • Repairs that are included in a tenancy agreement.

Wear and tear vs. damage

Unlike accidental damage, normal wear and tear occurs in a property over time as a result of day-to-day living. Tenants are not responsible for everyday wear and tear, therefore it is a landlord’s duty to replace the fittings and individual items that are no longer usable.

Damage can happen due to the tenant’s misuse or abuse of the assets in the rented property. The damage should be reported to the landlord as soon as possible. If the landlord agrees, tenants might be able to arrange a replacement or repair of the broken items themselves. However, a landlord can deny a repair, and as a result, deduct the repair costs from the security deposit, or, if tenants leave the property without paying for the damage, take legal actions against them.

Examples of wear and tear and damage

Wear and tear

  • Fading paint and/or wallpaper;
  • Traffic marks on carpets; 
  • Fading on curtains due to sunlight;
  • Cracks on the walls from movement;
  • Black spots on a mirror, “de-silvering”;
  • Worn enamel on bathroom fittings;
  • Clogging caused by ageing pipes;
  • Floors in need of new varnish or coating.

Damage

  • Kids’ drawings on the walls;
  • Pet stains or burn marks on carpets;
  • Broken windows;
  • Unapproved wall paint or wallpaper;
  • Chipped or broken bathtub, sink, etc.;
  • Clogging caused by flushing diapers/sanitary towels down the toilet;
  • Broken stove due to grease buildup; 
  • Any damage caused by tenants’ guests.

To identify if the property has been damaged or depreciated over time, everything should be documented. A well-conducted property inventory report will help you monitor the conditions of the property, fixtures and fittings, furniture and goods before and after the tenancy agreement. Such reports are signed by both sides, meaning that if any damage disputes arise, the official document is there to resolve them.

To make sure that landlord and tenants are on the same page when it comes to potentially damaged items, we recommend having a Property Inventory Report. Learn what it includes.

Learn more

Damage caused by neighbours

If tenants ever experience any damage from neighbours, like leaks or damage to the structures of the property caused by the neighbour’s construction works, then it is the landlord’s responsibility to deal with the situation. The landlord can ask the neighbours to pay for the damage or take them to court if they refuse. 

If the damage is caused to the tenants’ belongings, the landlord has no obligations towards that. In this case, tenants should approach the neighbours for compensation themselves. 

Pests

Because pest and insect infestation can cause harm to tenants’ health, a landlord should provide the premises in habitable and pest-free conditions. If any pest problems occur, they should be handled as soon as possible. The best course of action is to schedule an appointment with a pest control service, that way it will be easier to identify the reason that caused the pests to appear – tenants’ lack of cleanliness or landlord’s carelessness. 

If the tenants have noticed a pest problem in the first weeks of the tenancy, then most likely the landlord has financial responsibility for the treatment. On the other hand, if the tenants haven’t been taking proper care of the property – the bill falls on the tenant’s shoulders.

What is a reasonable time for a landlord to carry out repairs?

Even if broken goods can bring discomfort, tenants should give a reasonable amount of time to landlords to carry out repairs. “Reasonable” is a legal term and does not mean a set amount of time. Depending on the complexity of a problem and the effort put in by a landlord to fix it, a repair might take from a day to four weeks. It all comes down to how badly the problem is affecting the tenants’ everyday life. 

  • Gas leaks, water pipe bursts, or anything that can endanger the tenants’ lives should be taken care of immediately;
  • Broken boilers should be fixed within a day because they can seriously disrupt tenants’ everyday lives; 
  • Non-urgent repairs can be carried out within two to four weeks, depending on the circumstances. 

If the repairs were not taken care of after the tenants’ request, legal actions could be taken against the landlord. The local authorities can order repairs to be done by the landlord or do the repairs themselves and charge the landlord. 

Having an issue with rental property maintenance? 

Feel free to share your problem with Fantastic Services! The professional and experienced handymen we work with won’t leave you struggling with repair issues alone. With the utmost attention to details, they complete even the oddest jobs. Plumbing, painting and decorating, carpentry service, lock fitting; you name it, they will find a solution for it all! Don’t leave the repairs for the last day; book your handyman and odd jobs professional now!

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Takeaways

  • Landlord’s repairs responsibilities include major repairs like structures, common areas, electrics and plumbing;
  • Tenant’s repairs obligations involve minor maintenance and property care;
  • A landlord should fix any wear and tear;
  • Tenants should fix any accidental damage or property abuse;
  • The defects that can potentially harm tenants’ lives should be addressed immediately;
  • Repairs of damage caused by neighbours are circumstantial, meaning that landlords can arrange the repairs only of the damaged goods that were initially provided by the landlord.

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We hope this post was helpful to you! If you have any questions, share them in the comments section down below. We are always ready to help!

Source: Shutterstock / kamui29

  • Last update: October 22, 2020

Posted in Home Improvement, Painting and Decorating Tips

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