The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 sets out the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant. Section 11 of the Act sets out who is responsible for repairing a property whilst it is being rented.
Whilst the landlord has their own obligations to meet, tenants also have a responsibility for living in a 'tenant like manner'. This includes, but is not restriced to, maintaining certain aspects of the property, such as the garden, furniture, fixtures, fittings and any equipment supplied by the landlord. The tenant must ensure the property:
We know that tenants might be planning to go away during the winter months, particularly over Christmas. If this is the case it is very important to keep the heating on whilst away from the home. Turning the heating off may result in pipes freezing and cracking; the damage caused by a burst pipe can be huge and very costly. It is the tenants responsibility to do everything they can to ensure this does not happen – Tenants may find themselves responsible for any damage caused even whilst the property is vacant.
Therefore please ensure heating is left on constantly and that the thermostat set to above 10 degrees centigrade at all times whilst the property is left unoccupied.
Tenants are contractually obliged to report maintenance issues in a timely manner and do everything that they can to contain, to the best of their ability, any further damage being done to the property. For properties managed by Sandersons, all maintenance should be reported through Fixflo. This not only enables us to act upon maintenance reported promptly as a result of collecting the right information but tenants also have a written record.
Furniture and Equipment
Equipment and furniture supplied by a landlord should be safe and in good working order. Upholstery items should be fire resistant and carry the fire safety standards label.
If a piece of furniture is no longer working or unfit to use as a result of everyday wear and tear, then the landlord is required to replace or repair the item. The unsafe equipment or furniture should be reported to the landlord, who will then decide if it is worth repairing or if it would be more viable to replace the item. The landlord cannot charge the tenant or withhold the deposit for items which are unusable due to everyday wear and tear.
However, if a tenant has damaged a piece of furniture or equipment through improper use or carelessness then the landlord is allowed to charge the tenant for the damage or withhold all or part of the deposit.
Likewise, the landlord would not be held responsible for any breakages caused by the tenant not abiding by the forms of the agreement and not using the property in a 'tenant-like manner'. For example, a broken window would not be the landlord’s responsibility to repair.
All electrical equipment provided by a landlord must be safe and in good working order. The landlord is responsible for repairing any broken or faulty electrical items listed on the inventory that they have provided as part of the tenancy . However, the tenancy agreement may state that the landlord is only responsible for certain electrical appliances, so it is important that the tenant is familiar with both the inventory and terms of the agreement. Sandersons would encourage all landlords to opt for an independent inventory and check in to ensure the contents are accurately recorded and agreed by both parties. The tenant is always responsible for repairing any electrical items which they own and have brought with them to the property.
Tenants would not normally be required to re-decorate the property at the end of the tenancy unless stated in the agreement. If the property’s interior decoration had been damaged beyond fair wear and tear then the tenant may be required to re-decorate the property, or the landlord may retain some of the deposit to cover re-decoration costs.
If tenants want to re-decorate the property, they should always seek the landlord's permission first and find out what changes they are happy to be made. If any damage is caused whilst decorating (e.g. paint splashes to surfaces, fixtures,fittings) or it is carried out to an unprofessional standard, the tenant would be responsible for any remedial work required.
If the property is in need of decoration as a result of normal use and wear and tear then the landlord is responsible for re-decorating and should not retain any of the tenant’s deposit.
Communal Areas and Gardens
Where the tenant has chosen a property with a garden and has exclusive use of that area they are responsible for maintaining it, regardless of whether or not maintenance equipment has been provided. With regard to communal areas such as the entrance to a block of flats, the landlord would normally be responsible to maintain these areas of the property. Typically, the landlord would have a shared responsibility for these areas with the other flat owners.
Damp and condensation
If a property is damp as a result of leaking pipes, a damaged roof or wall or an existing damp-proof course which is no longer effective, then the landlord would be responsible for carrying out the necessary repairs.
Dampness in a property may be caused by condensation due to a lack of availability of heating, insulation or ventilation and in these circumstances the landlord would be required to resolve these problems. Although it may appear damp, it is often as a result of condensation through tenants not drying clothes properly, failing to use kitchen extraction when cooking or due to improper use of heating and windows. In this instance, the landlord would not be responsible for remedial work and re-decoration as a result of the dampness.