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Who is responsible for what?

Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, you most probably have asked yourself who’s responsible for rental property repairs and how to deal with damage.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, we’ll explore both landlord’s and tenant’s overall responsibilities, as this will provide a good basis to understand when a tenant is responsible for breakages and when a tenant should be asking their landlord for repairs.

What are the tenant’s responsibilities?

Once the tenancy agreement is signed, and possession of the property has been granted, the signed tenancy agreement should clearly confirm both the landlord’s and tenant’s obligations, including responsibilities for repairs and maintenance.

Tenants should live in a “tenant-like manner” and return the property and its contents in the same condition as they found it when moving in – aside from fair wear and tear. Whilst landlords are legally responsible for the majority of repairs and maintenance, tenants will be required, for example, to maintain the garden, replace light bulbs and batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, unless agreed otherwise in the rental contract.

What are the landlord’s responsibilities?

A landlord’s responsibility lies in ensuring that the property is fit for human habitation, meaning that it is safe to live in – whether furnished or unfurnished. This means ensuring that they are compliant with current regulatory obligations, including having up-to-date gas and electricity checks and certificates. Additionally, the structure and exterior of the property, including roof, walls, windows, drains, and doors are well maintained and safe for use.

Now, let’s find out, in more detail, who is responsible for which repairs.

Who is responsible for repairs in a rental property?

Landlords are responsible for the majority of the repairs, while tenants are responsible for reporting any maintenance issues in a timely manner to avoid any further damage or deterioration. If a tenant fails to report a maintenance issue, it can lead to a claim by their landlord if the delay or failing to report the issue increases the cost of repairs.

The tenancy agreement should clearly set out and confirm the landlord’s and tenant’s obligations; therefore, it’s important to fully read and understand it. A landlord cannot make their tenants responsible for servicing or repairing anything that falls within their landlord obligations, for example, repairing a gas boiler or obtaining the annual Gas Safety Record.

While a certain level of wear and tear throughout a tenancy is to be expected, the tenant should inform their landlord of any damage or breakages to furniture, fixtures and fittings or larger appliances and white goods that were supplied by the landlord.

Are tenants responsible for breakages?

A tenant’s main responsibility is to take care of the property, and is responsible for any damage they cause. Tenants are also responsible for the actions of any visitors they invite into their home. In other words, if a tenant’s visitor damages the property, it falls under the tenant’s responsibility. They must report any damages to the landlord when they occur so that it can be assessed and repaired. If the breakage occurs due to the tenant’s carelessness, the responsibility of repair should fall to the tenant.

Additionally, tenants must provide access to the landlord or trades person when the repairs are meant to be carried out. Landlords should give you 24 hours’ notice and organise the repairs at a reasonable time of day – unless it’s an emergency.

Do landlords have to replace or repair broken appliances?

Where a landlord provides appliances, it is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain and repair the appliance. However, a landlord is not responsible for maintaining and repairing a tenant’s own appliances.

How long does a landlord have to fix something?

Tenants should report damages to their landlord as soon as possible, after which the landlord is responsible for completing repairs and resolving maintenance issues in a reasonable and timely manner. This may vary based on the severity of the problem, the level of inconvenience caused to the tenant, and the availability of spare parts or replacement appliances.

Some tenancy agreements may vary in terms of responsibilities; however, you’ll find that the bare-bones of most of them follow similar guidelines as those given above. However, it’s always good to check your current tenancy agreement or contact your letting agent for additional clarification