Landlord Repair Obligations: A Beginner’s Guide

As a landlord, you need to be aware of your repairing obligations and know when it is reasonable to ask the tenant to carry out day-to-day maintenance.

Landlord Repair Obligations

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The main guiding principles for the landlord are contained in the law and the terms of your contract with the tenant. One way to avoid problems over disputed areas of maintenance is to be clear with the tenant from the outset how the responsibilities are divided, always ensuring that you accept your legal duties.

What the law says

The Landlord and Tenant Act says that you have to keep the outside of the building and its main structure in good repair. This includes gutters, downpipes, and drains. You also have to keep the heating and hot water supply in good order and make sure that gas and/or electricity are available. Similarly, sanitary ware such as toilets, baths and basins are your responsibility, although some fixtures and fittings are excluded.

Landlords can’t be expected to rectify problems they don’t know about, so your responsibility only begins when a tenant tells you there is a problem unless the problem is obvious or you find out about it in some other way.

What the law says

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The situation is somewhat more complicated when it comes to flats because some responsibilities for the common parts are shared. Take a look at the government website on landlords’ responsibilities for more information. This states that landlords are responsible for repairing staircases and other common areas. However, when the landlord is a minority owner in a block of flats, the landlord will usually be responsible for arranging to get the repair done by contacting the management company or block owner.

The simplest way to manage the maintenance of your property is to use property inventory software like https://inventorybase.co.uk/, which will allow you to list all those items in need of regular maintenance.

Getting access to the property

As a landlord, you must give your tenants 24 hours notice in writing that you, or your contractor, need access to carry out a repair. You don’t have a right to enter to carry out improvements – for example, to install new windows. If you think you’re going to need this, you may want to put a section referring to it in the tenancy agreement.