As a Landlord, This Is What You Have to Fix.April 10, 2018 11:48 am
One of the most common causes of disputes between landlords and tenants is the age-old question: what is the landlord actually responsible for fixing?
Annoying repairs to a property you’ve invested in to rent is without a doubt the biggest downside of buying a property to rent.
However, knowing exactly what is your responsibility to fix and what is not can make the whole process a lot more fluid.
The law, specifically under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, states in great detail exactly what you legally have to maintain in proper working order. We have outlined here in plain English what you do and do not have to take responsibility for in your property.
It is worth noting that the legislation text quoted in this article is from the law applying to England and Wales, but everything is the same under Scottish law, despite being worded a little differently.
What does the landlord have to fix?
This is largely just common sense, but what follows is a comprehensive list of everything that a landlord has a responsibility to maintain when renting out a property.
“to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling, including drains, gutters and external pipes”
Your responsibilities do not stop inside the property. Fixing the outside drainage and guttering is an often-overlooked element of building maintenance. Not only by landlords, it has to be said, but by unconcerned tenants. Delaying or even ignoring these problems can lead to much more expensive reparations in the future, so it’s best to avoid any issues by simply repairing your outside drainage before undirected water begins to cause problems.
“to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling for the supply of water, gas, electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences) but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity,”
These problems are some of the more pressing tenant complaints you are likely to get. If energy and water are not coming into the property properly, then they must be addressed as soon as possible. As well as any broken appliances that are limiting access to these resources that are used for things as fundamental as maintaining hygiene.
However, any appliances owed by the tenant for making use of gas, electricity and water which are not used for sanitation, such as tenant-owned lamps or gas powered appliances are not under your jurisdiction, this is up to the tenant alone.
Some of the appliances you are expected to fix, if you have provided them as part of the tenancy agreement, include:
- Electric Cookers
- Kettles and Toasters
- Washing Machines and Dryers
- Baths and Showers
- Water Tanks
“to keep in repair and proper working order the installation in the dwelling for space heating and heating water”
Again, this is another complaint you can expect to receive most often – especially during the Winter. Keeping hot water and heating available to your tenant is your responsibility. Make sure that boiler is functional, and in the case it breaks as is so often the case, make sure it is up and running as soon as possible to maintain a happy tenant.
All of these are reasonable requests by the government. They are all fairly self-explanatory too. What might interest you more, is what you cannot be held responsible for.
What does the landlord not have to fix?
“to carry out works or repairs for which the lessee 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”
In short, “if you broke it, you fix it.” This doesn’t mean the tenant has to fix everything in the flat that breaks just because they are there; if it breaks due to fair use, then it’s on you. However, if the tenant has damaged something by accident, or through carelessness, then it is their responsibility to cover the costs of repair.
“to rebuild or reinstate the premises in the case of destruction or damage by fire, or by tempest, flood or other inevitable accident”
This isn’t something you are likely to come across, but in the case your property is damaged to the point it is inhospitable by an accident outwith your control then you are not under obligation to fix it.
“to keep in repair or maintain anything which the lessee is entitled to remove from the dwelling-house”
This is worded a little strangely, but essentially it means if it isn’t yours, it isn’t your responsibility. Any appliance or object included with the residence, as part of the tenancy agreement, is your responsibility to fix. It isn’t your responsibility to fix anything that they can remove from the house, essentially anything that is theirs.
Tenants must report damage
You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. It is the tenant’s responsibility to report anything about the property that needs repairing. If you, as the landlord, have not been made aware of a problem, or if it has not been observed on a regular property inspection, then you are not legally required to fix it.
If damage to the property has come around because the tenant did not report a problem early enough, then it is not the landlord’s responsibility to pay for repairs.
Hopefully, if you are a landlord reading this, you haven’t come across any surprises. It is all reasonable and just something you have to accept if you are going to take on the responsibility of maintaining a property.
There is no doubt that the responsibilities of a landlord can be a headache. That’s why you should leave it to us! At Let it we have been in the property game for 30 years and understand the needs of landlords: high quality tenants, maximum return on investments, and exceptional service.
Contact us now on any of the numbers below if you’re interested in letting us manage your properties, letting you sit back and reap the rewards.