A rental should feel like a ‘home’, where a tenant feels comfortable and happy. After all, they are paying the mortgage on the place…via the rent of course!
However, it seems to be a common issue that many landlords simply refuse to carry out much needed repairs to their properties but, the question is, should they have to?
Here we aim to guide both landlords and tenants on how to handle the situation when things need doing in a rental property and where the buck actually stops.
Keep everyone in the loop
A landlord can only make repairs if he is kept in the loop. As soon as something arises let him/ her know so they can address it while it is still a little problem and not an enormous monstrosity of a headache that has got out of control due to being left to fester.
You may holler that you don’t have any contact details for your errant landlord or they just don’t reply – if this is the case request from your agent in writing for the landlords contact details – if they do not reply within 21 days – they could be fined up to £2,500 for committing a criminal offence – knowing the law is sometimes very empowering! Alternatively, Google the landlord’d name – use 192 or failing all, seek advice from Shelter or Citizens Advice.
Check the tenancy agreement
It is clearly laid out here, who is responsible for what. You can then quote this as a point of reference should anyone argue this fact. It can take some reading but is worth the effort to know the facts. As long as a tenant did not cause the issue through misuse, a landlord is legally responsible for most repairs including – the structure, exterior and communal areas of the property such as roofs, external doors and windows, gas safety, ventilation, sanitary ware, pipes and drains, chimneys and electrical appliances.
Keep your side of the bargain
You’ve got to keep your side of the bargain to avoid unnecessary dispute and this includes such points as; keeping the place clean and tidy, letting the landlord access it every now and then to check what maintenance they need to do, carry out any minor maintenance that you can – treat it like your own home – change light bulbs and smoke alarm batteries, if something is loose – just screw it back up – a 2 minute job that can make for a happier home environment. Keep drains clear if you can see they are blocked and so on.
Put it in writing
The last thing needed is for deductions to be made from a deposit because the landlord says he wasn’t informed about issues and the tenant swears blind they were reported. For everybody’s sanity keep records – flag issues in writing, take dated pictures and email these as well.
If you get no reply – chase them up to confirm receipt. Offer times for these repairs to happen – remind them what their responsibilities are.
Case Law that still stands today; Warren vs keen 1953: ‘The tenant must take proper care of the place. He must do the little jobs about the place which a reasonable tenant would do. If the house falls in to disrepair through fair wear and tear or lapse of time, then the tenant is not liable to repair it’.
Recent data shows nearly
“1/3 of all private rentals fail the Decent Homes Standard.
Councils have the power to make hefty fines if landlords do not comply.”
Don’t withhold your rent
A definite NO, NO. As much as you would love to and the landlord may deserve it, you can’t do this. This will put you in to rent arrears and the landlord can be within his rights to take steps to evict you. You can however organise for minor repairs to be done and deduct this from your rent, but ensure you follow the right legal procedures – which includes – advising of issues in writing, sending quotes, advise of date of repairs, advise of deductions of rent, send receipts, confirm re-confirm and confirm again – basically put it all in writing and get a good contractor!
P.S. …Don’t do any major repairs this is a definite minefield that you do not want to enter.
A Health and Safety Matter
A topic that needs greater detail and will be found in another blog of ours, but in brief if it relates to damp, mould, a gas leak, unsafe electrics, broken fittings that are causing a hazard such as a broken window loose carpet this is all a landlord’s responsibility. If they will not respond to you, go to Environmental Health. Send details of the issue in writing with picture back up if possible. Use this as a last resort after all other contact attempts with your landlord has failed and the property is affecting your health. They must act within the rules of the Human Habitation Act.
The long and short of it is communicating clearly and keeping records to protect all sides. Life is too short to spend it wrangling, so minimise the wrangles by following our tips.
We hope that some of the advice above has helped you. Connect with us on Facebook and LinkedIn to receive updates of all our tips and tricks and property know-how or contact us today for expert advice and assistance with inventory reports, check ins, check outs, property health checks and more to make sure you have all the evidence you need as a tenant or landlord to avoid any unnecessary disputes. Happy renting!