Repairs and Renovations: Whose obligation is it?
Landlords generally have an obligation to keep the property that is rented in reasonable and decent condition for tenants. Landlords and tenants both have a set of responsibilities and obligations that must be fulfilled. The Landlord and Tenant act 1985, which came into force on 30th October 1985, sets out the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants and section 11 of the Act specifically outlines whose obligation it is to repair a property when the property is rented out to tenants.
What are the repairing obligations of a Landlord?
The Act mostly covers short leases consisting of seven years or less which is commonly referred to as Assured Shorthold Tenancies. It is worth mentioning that the Landlord and Tenant act 1985 stipulates that a landlord has the following obligation:
- to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house including drains, gutters and external pipes,
- to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences but not other fixtures, fittings and applications for making use of the supply of water, has or electricity, and
- to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water – Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
If the above clause is unclear and further guidance is required, contact us and our team of specialists who deal with landlord and tenant disputes will be able to undertake a detailed and professional consultation with you to resolve your dispute quickly and efficiently.
Although the Act has set out the obligations of a landlord, it similarly sets out the exceptions to the repair duties that a landlord has. Section 11 of the Act therefore, further states a landlord does not need to:
- carry out works or repairs for which the lessee (the tenant) is liable by virtue of his duty to use the premises in a tenant-like manner, or would be so liable but for an express covenant on his part,
- rebuild or reinstate the premises in the case of destruction or damage by fire, or by tempest, flood or other inevitable accident, or
- keep in repair or maintain anything which the lessee (the tenant) is entitled to remove from the dwelling-house – Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
It is clear from the above that the landlord is responsible for most of the repairs required in a property that is being rented out. As briefly mentioned above, this involves repairs to the structure and exterior of the property including, but not limited, to the roof, windows and walls. The landlord also has an obligation to ensure that the central heating system is operating as it should and that there is sufficient ventilation in the property. Should any defects occur in the drains, guttering, gas pipes, electrical wiring then, the landlord is also responsible for undertaking these repairs. It is also worth checking the clauses in the signed tenancy agreement as this may confirm how often repairs should be undertaken by the landlord.
It is important to note that repairs that impact heat, safety and dampness, must be dealt with by the landlord either by responding to the tenant or undertaking the repairs within 14 days from the date that the repair was reported.
Landlords have a huge amount of responsibility toward their property and must ensure that the property is in decent condition which is achieved by undertaking any repairs to a good standard. However, tenants also have certain responsibilities and obligations toward the property they reside in. Tenants are expected to ensure that they keep the property clean as well as ensuring that they do not cause any damage to the property. Tenants are generally expected to undertake minor repairs such as replacing a fuse or the batteries in smoke alarms as well as changing light bulbs in the property. Further to this, tenants must repair their own appliances and furniture as this is the responsibility of the tenant if the appliances and furniture are not owned by the landlord.
Contact us today if you require further guidance as a tenant and our team of experts will be glad to assist you in your matter.
Renovations and re-decorating a property are also the landlord’s responsibility unless the renovation and/or re-decorating is required due to damage caused by the tenant, in which case, the tenant would be required to undertake the re-decorating. If the tenant does not repair the damage caused, the landlord has a right to keep a portion of the deposit in order to cover the costs of the repair.
How do I report repairs?
Tenants are able to report any repairs through written or verbal communication by utilising all methods of contact including reporting repairs in writing, by text or e-mail and even by way of a formal letter addressed to the landlord or the letting agent. If the landlord is a council or housing association, tenants may also be able to report repairs online. However, it is generally better to report repairs in writing to ensure that a tenant has proof that the repair was reported in circumstances where the landlord is refusing to undertake the requested repairs. Additionally, landlords are not obligated to undertake repairs that they have not been notified about and as such, reporting repairs will assist in ensuring that the repairs are undertaken.
For council/housing association tenants, it is expected that repairs are undertaken within a reasonable time frame. If the repair is an emergency repair, for example a burst pipe, the council has an obligation to ensure the repair is undertaken within 24 hours. For other less serious repairs, the council/housing association has between 7 and 28 days to ensure that the repair is completed to a good standard.
In circumstances where a landlord refuses to undertake the required repairs, the tenant can submit a claim in the small claims court for repairs that cost less that £5,000. This can be a lengthy and costly process and as such, some tenants may prefer to undertake the repairs but deduct the cost of the repairs from the rent payable to the landlord.
Further to the above, if it transpires that a landlord is evicting a tenant due to the tenant complaining or reporting a repair against which no action was taken to resolve the complaint or undertake the repair, then the landlord will not be able to issue a Section 21 notice which allows a landlord to evict tenants who reside at their property under an assured shorthold tenancy.
Contact us if you require further guidance as a tenant or landlord and are concerned about the condition of the property. Our team of specialist solicitors who have acquired extensive knowledge and experience with landlord and tenant disputes can resolve your matter with you professionally, honestly and efficiently.