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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:
Then read on!
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:
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. Don’t forget, you also have the option of a check-out report, which will cross-reference the condition of items in the original inventory, to how they are at the end of a tenancy.
Do keep in mind, in instances of fair wear and tear, it would be unfair to expect your tenants to replace or repair any damaged items. That being said, you should always investigate these claims first. You don’t want to be paying for anything that you don’t need to.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another key aspect of tenants responsibilities for repairs is making sure that any issues are reported to the landlord. Firstly, 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.
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.
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 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.
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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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