What are a tenants’ responsibilities for repairs and what are their rights?

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There’s nothing better than having somewhere to relax, unwind and call home.

As a nation of property lovers, it’s probably no surprise that there are various UK laws designed to protect the rights of tenants and landlords. 

In our experience, this legislation helps occupiers to keep their home looking lovely by letting them know exactly where they stand.

What are a tenants’ responsibilities?

Whether you have an oral or written tenancy agreement, your rights centre upon a law which implies that all dwellers must use a rented home in a ‘tenant-like’ way.

A tenants’ main responsibilities are to:

  • Keep your home reasonably clean

  • Not cause any damage to the property

  • Make sure visitors don’t cause any damage

  • Use fixtures and fittings properly – for example don’t block a toilet with unsuitable items

  • Carry out minor repairs - change light bulbs, fuses, batteries in smoke alarms

  • Keep chimneys and ventilation free from blockages

  • Tell your landlord about any repairs that are required

  • Provide access for any repair work to be done

What are a tenants’ responsibilities for repairs?

Any damage caused to a property by a tenant (or their guests) are the tenant's responsibility – whether the damage was malicious or accidental.

In either case, the tenant will have to pay for repairs. If they don't, the landlord is allowed to deduct money from their tenancy deposit.

In our experience, it’s a good idea to report any major damage to the letting agent or landlord and never carry out repairs without doing so unless your tenancy agreement says you are allowed to!

The landlord may want to carry out the repair work themselves and pass the costs on to you, or they may simply agree to you fixing the issue yourself.

Under no circumstances should a tenant have to pay for normal wear and tear to a home – this is the landlord’s responsibility.

What are a tenants’ responsibilities for appliances?

Tenants are responsible for repairing any appliances which they have installed, such as a shower or satellite TV.

If your landlord supplied electrical appliances, they are usually responsible for maintaining them – unless this is stipulated in your Tenancy Agreement.

The same applies to any gas appliances, which must be supplied in a safe working order.

A landlord is NOT responsible for fixing appliances or furniture owned by a tenant.

What are a tenants’ responsibilities for the garden?

Depending on your Tenancy Agreement, you may be responsible for keeping the garden tidy and in a reasonable order. If you are, this should have been made clear beforehand.

What are a tenants’ responsibilities for visitors?

If you invited or allowed a visitor into your home, you have a ‘duty of care’ to ensure they and their belongings are reasonably safe. 

What is a landlord responsible for repairing?

In general, a landlord is responsible for:

·       A property’s structure and exterior features

·       Heating, boiler and hot water

·       Gas appliances – ovens, fires, pipes, flues and ventilation

·       Sinks, baths, basins and other sanitary fittings - pipes and drains

·       Electrical wiring and sockets

·       Common areas - staircases and doors in blocks of flats

·       Damage caused by attempted repairs

If in doubt, check your Tenancy Agreement for your rights

Should you be in ANY doubt about your repair responsibilities, it’s important to check your Tenancy Agreement – as it will usually detail who’s responsible in very clear terms.

If you live in a block of flats and cause damage to another tenant’s flat (by leaving the bath to overflow), you’d obviously be responsible for the repair bill.

But you may be pleasantly surprised to find that your landlord is responsible for repairing or replacing faulty appliances they’ve provided - such as a fridge, freezer, washing machine or dishwasher.

In some instances, tenants read their Tenancy Agreement and discover they are allowed to decorate - so long as certain colour schemes or neutral colours are used.

In our experience, a detailed and robust Agreement is the key to a successful relationship between the occupier and landlord. It should always state who is responsible for what repairs and, if it is the landlord, it should say when or how often certain repair types (such as cleaning communal areas) will be carried out.

To protect the rights of tenants, landlords MUST carry out the repairs which the UK law says they are responsible for – even if the agreement says something different. This prevents terms being included in an Agreement which passes on statutory repair responsibilities to tenants - such as a leaking roof - as it would not be enforceable by law.

We look out for you, not just your landlord!

At Garness Jones, we aim to build a positive relationship between you, us and your landlord, to make sure every repair issue is handled as fairly, quickly and effectively as possible.

If you’re a tenant who needs an emergency or urgent repair, or are in a Garness Jones property and are unsure what may or not be your responsibility, call us on 01482 564564 – we’ll be happy to help!

More information on renting and rights and responsibilities can also be found on the Government site  https://www.gov.uk/private-renting