Marie, Maintenance Manager, talks us through a few common problems that arise in rental properties and whose responsibility it is to get it fixed...
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes.
There are countless times when a tenant notices a problem in the property they’re living in but initially choose to ignore it as to begin with, the problem seems minor. It could be the very first signs of damp issues, or a very slow and infrequent drip from a leak. Over time, the problem gradually gets worse, with damp spots expanding and becoming more noticeable, or the dripping leak becoming far more frequent - does this sort of thing sound familiar? Do you also recall wondering whose responsibility it is to sort and pay to rectify the problem?
A surprising number of both landlords and tenants across the UK are unaware of their legal obligations and responsibilities when it comes to repairing issues within a rental property. For those who are here to learn, a good starting point would be to familiarise yourself with The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which covers the majority of repair obligations.
The act states that landlords are responsible for organising the repair of any structural and exterior dwelling issues, as well as adequately maintain installations in the dwelling, including water supply, gas, electricity, and sanitation such as basins, skins and baths.
Landlords must also oversee the repair and maintenance of the heating system for both the property and water supply.
The tenant is expected to maintain and repair interior fixtures, such as fittings and appliances.
The legal obligations of a tenant are very straight forward, though it’s important that a tenant understands the importance of informing their landlord of any issues that require repair or maintenance as soon as possible.
Some of the most common repair issues that cause some degree of “who’s responsibility is that?” confusion include:
Landlords may have a legal obligation to fix issues that relate to the basic build of the house, but things can get a little more complicated when it comes to mould on the walls and/or ceilings. Mould grows on walls due to moisture issues that can stem from several different factors - many of which may be no fault of the landlord.
If there are leaks in the pipework or if there’s general structural defects that are causing mould and dampness, the landlord should certainly cover the cost to repair the issues.
However, if the problem relates to ventilation in the room or less than satisfactory upkeep, then the tenant should fix the problem, though a landlord may want to look into installing extractor fans where possible to better prevent future problems arising. An example could be when a tenant frequently dries clothes in a small room or takes steamy showers without correctly ventilating the bathroom or opening windows.
This situation can be tricky as unless it’s clearly obvious that structural issues are the root cause of the mould, the tenant has to prove that it isn’t from them simply being negligent.
Either way, discussions should be had between landlord and tenant so that a professional can carry out an official assessment.
Before any tenant moves in a landlord should ensure all plumbing is in good and safe working order. This includes all boilers, water tanks, taps, sinks, baths, showers, pipes, drains and radiators. Landlords are liable to pay for the repair of any plumbing issues that arise from problems that pre-existed the start of the tenancy.
Once a tenancy is underway, the responsibility for the repair will depend on the cause of the problem. If there is misuse or unnecessary damage then the fault and responsibility for repair will lie with the tenant, but if it’s a plumbing issue that’s caused by general wear and tear over time then it will be the responsibility of the landlord. Before any repair is carried out or scheduled by a tenant they should always alert the landlord in advance as they will likely want to assess the problem and make a decision on how they want to move forward with the repair.
Some pipework, particularly in blocks of flats and apartments, are communal pipes that may fall under the responsibility of the managing agent, therefore plumbing issues with these pipes often have nothing to do with either the landlord or tenant. Such pipes could include the communal waste pipe, but if in doubt check with the managing agent of the property for clarification.
The landlord is legally obliged to ensure necessary repairs are carried out and paid for when it comes to anything relating to the exterior of the property. In terms of the garden, a landlord will often ensure that a tenancy agreement stipulates that the general upkeep and maintenance of the garden or other outside area is the responsibility of the tenant.
With all of that said, if a tenant was to cause damage to the exterior, such as smashing a window, and the repair wasn’t through wear and tear or due to simply no longer being fit for purpose, then it goes without saying that the landlord will likely want to seek the cost of repair to be covered by the tenant.
Are you a landlord in Cardiff looking for the perfect tenants? Or are you a tenant on the lookout for your next ideal rental property? Here at CPS Homes our friendly lettings team have the know-how and expertise you’ll need. Contact us today to see how we can help with your property search or investment journey by calling 02920 668585, e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by popping into one of our three Cardiff based branches.