Landlord repair responsibilities

You as a landlord are only responsible for repairs that are reported to you, but that said, how confident are you that your tenants know what they should be reporting? How much effort do you put in explaining to your tenants what you should do and what is up to them?

At the start of the tenancy, you should spend some time going through the tenancy agreement; show them the section about repairs and tell them how you want to be notified when there are issues to be addressed.

Tell the tenant how you want to be notified of repairs – text, telephone or in writing. Explain you will always try to effect repairs at the earliest opportunity, but this may not always be immediate – Councils and housing associations cannot guarantee immediate service either! Of course, if a tenant is left without gas, water or electric, you must pull out all the stops to get the property put to rights and it is worth investigating the repair policies run by the Gas Board and United Utilities, amongst others. It can be difficult getting a plumber out at periods of high demand, ie Winter, and it is distressing to think of anyone living without heating, albeit temporarily, in the depths of Winter.

It is at this stage, whilst going through the tenancy agreement, that you can take the opportunity to advise the tenant what you are responsible for:

  • Structure and exterior of the property – doors, window, roofs, chimneys; I would also include aerials, if one is fitted externally
  • Sanitary installations – toilets, baths, pipework and drains.
  • Installations for heating of space and water – boiler, radiators, etc. – it is not generally considered sufficient to say that the landlord provided a kettle to boil water for washing pots and shaving!
  • Though these items seem very specific, they can also be surprisingly broad. If in doubt, ask advice from your association or your local housing standards/environmental Services.

But what are you not responsible for?

To start with, anything that is a result of carelessness of your tenant, or any guest, of your tenant. You will almost certainly be told it was an accident – well good, one would hate to think it was a deliberate act, but does that take responsibility away from the tenant? Of course not, but bear in mind, your tenant may not be able to afford the cost of the repair.

You don’t want repairs left (it may deteriorate further or leave the property insecure) and you don’t want his mate who is quite handy, messing around. Do the job yourself, confirming in writing that it is still the tenants’ liability and you expect to be recompensed by small payments, either weekly or fortnightly. If there is a balance on the repair costs when the tenant vacates, you will expect to deduct it from the deposit, though if there is any dispute, this will be referred to the Dispute Resolution Service.

Should this occur, draw up a simple payment sheet or card along the following lines:

Tenant’s Name: Landlord’s Name:


Repair: Cost:

Landlord repair responsibilities Residential Landlord

Remember, anything bought by the tenant, or installed by the tenant, is their responsibility, not yours.

Most landlords do their best for their tenants and offer standards they could not expect to get in the social housing sector. Repairs, often the tenant’s fault, cause frustration and distress. Do what you have to and, if the tenant has caused a lot of damage, don’t argue, don’t threaten, but serve notice. There are people waiting for decent properties, you don’t need a tenant that does not appreciate what you have given them.

5 Comments on "Landlord repair responsibilities"

  1. StephenGore | 26/03/2014 at 18:55 | Reply

    As an experienced tenant myself, I do have seen the goods and bads in landlords, agencies, contractors and the likes.

    Given that there is no real time limit in which a repair should be executed, some landlords take advantage and stretch needlessly the process.

    I've had a landlord, who was quite handy with his tools and for the sake of his pocket did repairs on his own. Now, he was good and when he got on it, fixed it in no time. The problem was getting him to get on it.

    Some of the tiles in the bathroom got loose and fell over time. Given the humidity in the bathroom it took a second for mould and mildew to spread.

    Now, I'm not a germophobe, nor It was a life-threatening case, but mould is pretty unhealthy and is also pretty disgusting. Me and my room-mate reported the issue on the second day of the tiles falling and only had him come and patch them up half an year later.

    Being considerate, we never made any serious protest against it (e.g. upholding rent, contacting the council), but it was pretty uncomfortable for us and we made sure he was well aware of it. As I said, it wasn't anything like busted boiler or heating unit, but I'm pretty sure if it was, the landlord was going to take forever to fix it up and make our life at home frustrating and unsatisfactory.

    The point of the matter is, I really feel like the law in terms of repairs is really favouring the landlord. Yes, there is somebody to enforce control, should the situation is unfit for regular inhabitance, but I feel like it's not enough of a relief to know there is somebody you can run to and further rely to do something that counts.

  2. rolandmoore | 10/11/2014 at 14:19 | Reply

    Tenants should be responsible for what they to or what happens to the apartment because the landlord isn't always the one at fault. Some people think that they can damage the place and just blame the landlord for it and its stupid that people should be able to do that!

  3. CurtainCleaning | 14/11/2014 at 09:33 | Reply

    I totally agree, Ronald Moore! Tenants must not forget that the property is not theirs and that they have certain responsibilities and limits!

  4. MirandaShaw | 11/05/2015 at 13:17 | Reply

    Any landlord must get a writing form, (Including payment, services and fees) in order to avoid additional expenses. A clear statement is always required for better communication. The responsibilities should be clearly defined. If something is not written clearly the tenant could not be obliged to pay.

  5. cleaningday | 15/05/2015 at 12:03 | Reply

    The tenancy contract should be quite clear in this regard – the landlord should be responsible for organizing the repairs, he should find a company to fix whatever the problem is. However in most cases the tenants should pay the bill as they are using the property in the moment. If they cant afford to pay it at once you can just ask them for a small amount each month.

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