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Who is responsible for maintaining and repairing a rental property? Mon, 23 Jun 2014 16:42

You might have imagined that a landlord is chiefly responsible for the maintenance and repair of their own property. But it's important to make yourself aware of your exact responsibilities, as you don't want to have to sell your rental house due to lack of time and money to carry out essential work.


Although landlords are responsible for maintaining certain standards within their property, who has exact responsibility for what repairs should be outlined in the tenancy agreement - electrical and gas appliances and furniture safety being the exceptions. If it isn't clear from the tenancy agreement or statement of tenancy terms who has responsibility for repairs and the tenancy started on or after 1st April 2007, 'default' terms are imposed by the law.


A landlord's repairing responsibilities, according to those default terms, include the property's structure and exterior, covering such elements as the drains, gutters, external pipes and exterior paintwork. The property's interior is another landlord responsibility - save for matters covered under tenant responsibilities - along with any installations for the supply and use of water, gas, electricity and sanitation.


Also covered in these default terms are any appliances that the landlord has provided under the tenancy for making use of the water, gas or electricity supply, as well as any installations for space heating and water heating, and any fixtures, fittings and furniture that the landlord has provided under the terms of the tenancy. Any common areas or areas required for access will also need to be kept in good condition by the landlord according to these terms, any areas required for access also needing to be adequately lit and safe to use.


Remember that if you need to access the building for repairs, the obligation is on your tenant to permit you to enter. You are not entitled to enter the property with force or without first securing the tenant's permission. However, you must also be allowed by your tenant to enter the property to carry out repairs.


A tenant's responsibilities for repairs should also be laid out in the tenancy agreement. Again, certain 'default' terms apply if responsibility isn't made clear, including taking good general care of the property and making good any damage caused to the property as a result of the tenant's behaviour or negligence.


By ensuring that both parties are fully aware from the start of their repair and maintenance responsibilities, you can minimise the likelihood of having to sell your rental house due to a damaging dispute with your tenant. 

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