Problems with the property: Who is responsible for the repair?
Any tenancy agreement should regulate landlords and tenants responsibilities, especially when renting from a private landlord.
According to the law, more specifically section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1895, all landlords must take care of the property’s structure and exterior, including drains, gutters, and any external pipes.
As a landlord, you have to keep also a few other things running such as any water, gas or electricity installations as well as sanitation (bath, sinks, toilets etc). It is your duty to repair any fittings and furniture provided under the tenancy contract and ensure that all appliances supplied meet fire safety regulations. Landlords are responsible for all these repairs, regardless of what is stated in the tenancy agreement.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
Multiple Occupancy refers to a residential property occupied by at least three tenants who share common areas such as kitchen, bathroom or toilet, creating more than one household. Members of a family or unmarried couple living together in one house form a single household. HMO refers rather to students or young professionals who share one property, forming more than one household.
In the case of HMO, the landlord has some extra responsibilities to ensure the safeties and good living conditions to all tenants. The common areas of the building such as entrance halls, communal rooms, shared kitchens, and stairways are additional objects of the landlord’s duty. Common rooms must be kept clean and safe, handrails and bannisters must be well-maintained as well as windows and any facilities outside such as fences, gates etc.
Furthermore, landlords are obligated to run safety checks of all applicants and installations. Lastly, the right amount of bins must be provided in the property to ensure the waste disposal.
As a tenant, you are expected to act in a ‘tenant-like’ manner. This means that you should take good care of the property you are renting and keep it clean and tidy. You are responsible for all the minor maintenance work such as changing light bulbs, vacuum bags and washing machine filters.
The light bulbs are a reason of common dispute between landlords and tenants. Since landlord cannot control how often the lights are switched on and off, it is tenant’s responsibility to change the light bulbs inside of the flat or the house that is being rented, unless otherwise specified in the tenancy agreement.
In case of any bigger repairs needed, you should report it to your landlord and provide access to the flat or a house for the repair to be carried out. When visiting the property to see the repair progress, landlords must give tenants not less than 24 hours notice.
When damage is caused by you or your guests, it is your duty to repair or replace the damaged object, even if it was accidental. If you don’t fix it, your landlord may claim some money out of your deposit paid at the beginning of the tenancy. Lastly, tenants are expected to leave the property in the same condition as they found it.
The tenancy agreement may contain a section on some additional repairs around the house, for example regarding the garden, regulated individually between landlord and the tenants. In case you are not sure who is responsible for a given repair, have a look at your contract or contact your landlord.