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Who needs to do the repair?

Getting to grips with repairs to rental accommodation

It's a fact of life that things will go wrong. It happens! In most cases, problems with housing are easy to put right. Usually, it is clear whether the landlord or the tenant handles the repair. But, like many things in life, sometimes it is not clear.

In rented accommodation, most major repairs are the landlord's responsibility. Whereas minor things fall to the tenant. Some of the major issues have legislation specific to them. Others are more general. In this article, we'll attempt to clear up who looks after what.

What is a major repair?

The landlord will nearly always have to sort out problems with any of these areas if they are defective. Provided the tenant has not damaged them either through neglect or deliberate action.

  • Structural issues - such as the roof, the doors and windows.
  • Washing and sanitary - like sinks and toilets
  • Services - electrical wiring and pipework
  • Heating and hot water including the boiler
  • Gas and electrical safety

So what about minor repairs?

Smaller issues will usually need doing by the tenant. The landlord is not expected to deal with every little detail. Some examples include:

  • Changing lightbulbs
  • Cleaning windows
  • Cutting the lawn and maintaining the garden
  • Changing blown fuses

It is up to the tenant to put anything right that has broken because they have not taken care of it. Or because they have damaged it.

Reporting problems

All tenants have a right to what the law calls "quiet enjoyment". This means that neither the landlord nor agent can just turn up and enter (except in an emergency). So the landlord will not know about any problems unless the tenants tell them.

If you have a problem, you should report it to the letting agent. Or directly to the landlord if there is no agent. Most landlords will be happy to sort out the problem as it protects their property. The landlord must sort out the problem in a reasonable time.

What is a reasonable time?

That depends! A reasonable time takes into account lots of factors. The biggest one is urgency. A front door that won't lock is much more urgent than a dripping tap.

Also, there are times when a delay is inevitable. Sometimes tradesmen are unavailable straight away or parts are out of stock. All problems are much easier to deal with when the tenant and landlord are talking to each other. Keeping each other informed makes everything more tolerable.

And if the landlord does nothing?

In rare cases the landlord might either do nothing or say that it is not their responsibility. If this happens, gather together evidence of the problem. Take photographs of the problem. Video might show some issues better. Keep any receipts for things for have had to buy or replace. Send a copy of these to the letting agent and get a receipt. Either an email read receipt or proof of delivery from Royal Mail.

Make sure you keep copies of all emails, letters and other correspondence. Give the letting agent 7 days to reply before taking further action...

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