Who's responsible for the repair or replacement of white goods in a rented property?

Washing MachineAs Cardiff’s largest letting and estate agent, we house hundreds of tenants in properties every year, including everyone from students to young professionals, to families, and that means we’re frequently contacted about several important issues. One of the most common questions we’re asked is about white goods and who is responsible for the replacement or repair of white goods should one break?

If a white good is damaged through the tenant’s negligence, then the chances are they’ll be responsible for the repair or replacement costs. However, this situation is rare, and often white goods break because of general day-to-day use, or they’ve come to the end of their optimum working performance, and in these cases, the answer is simple: a landlord has no statutory duty to repair/replace any white goods, but they may have a legal contractual duty to do so. Therefore, the terms of any tenancy agreement need to be carefully drafted, read, and agreed upon before any tenancy agreement is signed.

What items are classed as white goods?

If you look in your kitchen, you’ll likely see appliances such as a washing machine, dishwasher, fridge-freezer, and possibly a tumble dryer. These items are all classed as white goods in the eyes of the law, even though many of these appliances are no longer white, and come in a variety of modern styles and colours to suit the kitchen’s décor.

What are the legal responsibilities of a landlord in regards to white goods?

Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 states exactly what a landlord is required to do and is responsible for. The act states that for all short-term leases (less than seven years) or periodic tenancies, a landlord must keep the structure and exterior of the property in good repair, including gutters, drains and external pipes.

Landlords are also responsible for the repair and maintenance of installations in the property that supply gas, electricity, water, and for the upkeep of basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary conveniences; landlords don’t have to maintain other fittings, fixtures or appliances which use the supply of gas, water, or electricity.

Finally, landlords must ensure the upkeep of installation for space heating and heating water.

As we can see, landlords are not required to maintain appliances that make use of water, gas or electricity, other than those mentioned above, so this doesn’t cover kitchen white goods. Nevertheless, all electrical goods supplied in a property need to comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, and if they’re not, they need to be repaired/replaced. As a result, landlords are not obligated to repair or replace any white goods, unless they’re contractually obliged to in the tenancy agreement.

We recommend to our landlords that they carry out any repairs or replacements of white goods where necessary, however, should a landlord wish to transfer this responsibility to the tenants, we advise them to ensure they include in the tenancy agreement a comprehensive provision.

Are you a tenant or landlord confused about who is responsible for white goods in your property? If so, the team here at CPS Homes can help. Get in touch today on 02920 668585, email enquires@cpshomes.co.uk or come and have a chat with us in our Woodville Road branch, located in the heart of Cathays, Cardiff.

19 July 2017

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