Landlord Advice

Landlord Responsibilities For Repairs – If It Ain’t Broke…

Repairs. A word that will make any landlord shudder. For good reason, too, as repairs can put a significant dent in your pockets. The good thing is, the landlord’s responsibilities for repairs are clear and easy to follow, as you’ll soon see. Just as well, these responsibilities are among the most significant cause of contention between landlords and tenants.

So if you: 

  • Need some advice on repairs;
  • Need to be sure of the landlord’s responsibilities for repairs;
  • Want to know when your tenants are responsible for repairs;

Then read on!

Landlord repair obligations

In accordance with the fitness for habitation act of 2018, you must maintain your property to a habitable standard. That means that anything that can affect the health or safety of a tenant must be dealt with. This includes:

  • Structural repairs Making sure your property is structurally sound is crucial. A broken window, cracks and crevices, leaking external pipes all need to be repaired as they can lead to other problems. Like pests or water damage, which leads nicely into our next point. 
  • Mould and water damage Mould is a good indicator that your property may have an issue with damp or water leakage. Most times, you will have to eliminate the problem yourself, unless there is clear evidence of tenant negligence, i.e not ventilating the property.
  • Rats, mice and other pests Likewise, if your property is rife with pests, the landlord is responsible for getting rid of them. A professional pest controller should be brought in at this point. They are able to find where the pests are nesting and deal with them effectively. However, you do not need to pay for pest control if the tenant was negligent, in terms of the overall cleanliness of the property or disposal of food.
  • Heating and boiler problems Your tenants need to be able to properly heat their homes in the colder months of the year. It’s a landlord responsibility to repair the boiler and heating system if problems arise. This is why it’s important to get regular boiler inspections, to make sure that any issues can be identified and fixed immediately. Landlord boiler cover can also be useful here, which will cover you if your boiler breaks down. Not to mention, you’ll get a gas safety certificate included in your cover, which will ensure that any gas appliances are safe for tenants to operate.
  • Electrical appliances and outlets You’ll need an electrical installation condition report (EICR) which tests the electrical safety of your appliances and fixtures. Generally, the EICR should highlight any issues. However, if during a tenant’s stay there are problems with the electricity, or they pose a danger to the tenant themselves (like faulty electrical wiring), you’ll need to sort it. Electrical problems can be the result of water damage, corrosion or faulty wiring, meaning it can be difficult to find the source of a problem, which is why an electrical fault finding service may be the best option.
  • Fire safety As a landlord, it is your responsibility to ensure that your property has fully functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Your tenants will just need to change the smoke alarm batteries every now and then. If you’re an HMO landlord, you are legally responsible for making sure any fire extinguishers and fire retardant blankets are fully functioning and replace them if they are damaged or faulty.

It’s important to note that, while in the majority of occasions you will be liable for the repairs of the items listed, you won’t be if the tenant is found to be negligent. We recommend getting a full inventory report of your property before tenants move in. This will allow you to keep a record of the condition of your home and any changes that occur during a tenant’s stay.

Landlords repair time frame

You might be asking; what is a reasonable time frame to carry out repairs? The answer depends. It’s all down to the urgency of the issue. For instance, if a property’s boiler breaks during the winter period, you should try to fix it within 48 hours and supply a space-heating appliance if necessary.

However, if your tenants are complaining about a rickety bannister or a hole in the wall, you don’t have to fix them immediately. It is a good practice to try and get repairs done within a reasonable time, which is around 30 days.

Regardless of when you are planning repairs, you should always relay any information to your tenants. A rough estimate and acknowledgement that you are dealing with the problem can go a long way in terms of the relationship between a landlord and their tenants.

Tenant’s responsibility for repairs

You’ve already heard the term ‘tenant negligence’ in this article. But let’s go over some more specific examples of what you should look out for. As mentioned previously, it’s important to get an inventory of your property, as this will help you determine whether a tenant has been negligent or not. Believe us, the cost of inventory will always be worth it in situations like these.

Overall cleanliness and condition of the home

Keeping the home in a reasonable condition is an important part of the tenant’s responsibilities. This includes maintaining a good level of cleanliness. If the property isn’t properly cleaned and food isn’t properly stored or disposed of, there is an increased likelihood of a pest infestation. In cases like these, your tenants will need to handle the problem themselves, which might include paying for a pest controller. 

Cleanliness is a serious concern and can be grounds for eviction if a tenant is proven to have broken the tenancy agreement concerning cleanliness.

Damage to furniture or appliances

If your tenants have caused damage to any of the furniture or appliances in the property, they are liable to pay for repairs or replacement. They are also responsible for any minor repairs set out within the tenancy agreement. This can include anything from changing broken light bulbs, to changing the fuses in plugs. 

Fair wear and tear

Keep in mind, tenants are not liable to repair anything that has broken from normal wear and tear. Properties in the rental sector change hands frequently, with new tenants coming and going over the years. This means that certain items or areas will fall into disrepair simply through normal use and age. In which case, you are responsible for fixing or replacing said items. 

That being said, you should always question how ‘reasonable’ the deterioration is and whether it would have happened naturally. Never take the claim at face value. You may be shelling out money for a repair that you weren’t liable for in the first place. 

Report issues to the landlord

Another key aspect of tenants responsibilities for repairs is making sure that any issues are reported to the landlord. Firstly, because it is a landlord obligation to repair any issues with the property (that we’ve discussed above). Secondly, once a tenant leaves and the landlord inspects the property and they find an issue that they weren’t informed of, they can attribute it to the tenant. At which point, they may deduct from the security deposit.

It is both in the tenant’s and the landlord’s best interest if any issues are reported in a timely fashion. 

Give access to repairs

Obviously, if a landlord has notified a tenant of a scheduled repair, then you need to provide access. As a landlord, you’ll want to give your tenants enough notice and prepare a suitable day for the visit that works for both parties. 

Keep in mind, if a tenant refuses entry, you can’t enter the home without the tenant’s permission. Unless you believe there to be an emergency and you can’t contact the tenant directly. In such cases, you can ‘break in’ to the property. Unfortunately, you will be responsible for repairing any damage during entry. 

Refusal for repairs – Court cases and evictions

This is the point that neither party wants to reach. First, we’ll start with the landlord repair obligations and the repercussions for not following them. If a landlord refuses to repair something that they are responsible for repairing and it is affecting the health and safety of the tenant, a complaint can be made to the local authorities. Which can then lead to prosecution of the landlord. In some cases, the tenants can even make a claim against you in court, leading to lengthy legal fees.

If on the other hand, the tenant is at fault and is damaging the property through misuse, you have grounds to evict them. This is usually done in front of a court. As long as a landlord can provide the proper evidence, the law will usually swing in their favour. 

Landlord insurance

Landlord insurance can help prevent large dents in your pockets if you need to carry out repairs. Or if you need to go to court, it will help cover some legal fees. It is best to shop around, as each type of insurance offers different deductibles and limits. Choose the best option for you. While you might be paying a little bit extra each month, you won’t be hit as hard if any problems arise in a rental property as some of the repair costs will be covered.

Need a handyman to carry out repairs

If you’re a landlord, you’ll know that every property needs some TLC every now and then. Rental properties will see their fair share of wear and tear over the years, as new tenants come and go. Which is where the handymen can be of help! 

With Fantastic Services, we send you a qualified professional who will be able to carry out repairs on certain areas or items on the property.  The handymen we use have the experience and tools to carry out any job, whether it’s a bathroom repair or a simple lock replacement. Regardless of what needs to be done, we have you covered.

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Takeaways

  • Landlord repair obligations state that repairs must be carried out if it affects the health and safety of your tenants.
  • Tenants responsibilities for repairs include anything that they have damaged themselves through misuse.
  • Fair wear and tear happens and your tenants cannot be held liable for damage caused by normal use. 
  • Repairs should be carried out within a fair timeframe and should be discussed by the landlord and tenant. 

***

We hope you found our article useful. For any useful advice you might have to add, or an experience you had concerning rental repairs, leave a comment! 

Image Source: Shutterstock / Siarhei Kuranets

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