Updated on 13th December, 2022 by Martin Astley
Landlords and tenants each have their own repair responsibilities. This is outlined in the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985, which applies to all tenancies with terms under seven years. However, although these regulations have been on the books for many years, there is still a great deal of confusion surrounding this issue amongst both landlords and tenants.
Landlords must make sure their homes are suitable for human habitation. But what makes a house uninhabitable? The Act states that if a house is defective in one or more of the following areas, it must be brought up to standard before it is let out:
- Natural lighting
- Internal arrangement
- Water supply
- Drainage and plumbing
- Waste disposal facilities
- Food preparation facilities
Therefore, if you have a property that you believe is unacceptable in one or more of these matters, you could face serious problems should you decide to let it out!
Landlord’s repair and maintenance obligations
Landlords are responsible for the following for all leases of less than seven years:
- Keeping the water, electricity and gas supply in good working order and in a state of repair
- Repairing and maintaining sanitation devices, including baths, sanitary conveniences, sinks and basins – but not any other appliances, fittings and fixtures that use gas, electricity or water
- Repairing the exterior and structure of the property, including gutters, drains and external pipework
- Repairing and maintaining hot water and space heating installations, such as boilers.
Landlords can exempt themselves from repairs in some instances, such as if the tenant has expressly consented to conduct the repairs, in the event of inevitable accidents such as flooding and fire, or if the repair relates to an item owned by the tenant.
Defences when a landlord fails to meet these obligations
There are a number of valid defences landlords can use if they fail to conduct repairs in a timely manner. These are:
- The landlord was not informed of the repair. Landlords and tenants ought to use written correspondence to request for repairs to provide proof if required.
- The tenant refuses access to the property. Landlords must make “all reasonable endeavours” to attain the right to access the property before they may use this defense. This is also a suitable defence should a landlord fail to complete annual CP12 checks.
What can tenants do if repairs are not completed?
If tenants are expecting a repair but it has not been completed, the first thing they should do is contact the landlord or the letting agent to find out what has gone wrong. The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1987 also obliges landlords to provide tenants with a contact address; believe it or not, landlords are not entitled to any rental payments until they provide this address!
Should tenants still find themselves waiting for repairs after requesting them, they ought to consider gently reminding the landlord of their legal obligations towards tenant repairs.
Another useful port-of-call is the local authority; if the council’s Environmental Health Department determines that the rented property is a health and safety risk, it can force the landlord to take reparative action. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau may also be able to help tenants in this situation.
If repairs are still not forthcoming, tenants can take their landlord to court. If the court determines that the landlord has failed in their repair and maintenance duties, they will be forced to complete the repairs and will have to pay for court costs. A no-win, no-fee lawyer may be able to advise.
Landlords can stay on top of their obligations by taking out landlord cover with us! If there’s a boiler breakdown, our team will be on-hand to put things right the very same day, and CP12 certificate come as standard!