If you rent from a social housing landlord, they are liable for most repairs; find out what repairs they are responsible for. You do, however, have some obligations as a renter to keep your house in excellent shape.
What are you in charge of?
If you have an assured shorthold tenancy with a private landlord, read our guidance on what repairs your landlord is responsible for.
You are accountable for the following as a tenant:
- taking care of your house by treating it as if you were a renter;
- informing your landlord about the necessary repairs;
- allowing access to have any repairs completed; and
- having a responsibility to your guests.
Taking care of your house
Every rental agreement includes a provision that the renter must utilize their house in a “tenant-like” manner. This is true whether your tenancy agreement is written or informal of the rented property.
Using your house as though you were a renter usually entails:
- doing simple repairs such as changing fuses and light bulbs on your own
- Keeping your house in a reasonable state of cleanliness
- not creating any property damage and ensuring that your guests do not cause any harm
- appropriately using any fixtures and fittings, such as without clogging a toilet by flushing something inappropriate down it.
You may also like to read: “Why do apartments charge for laundry?“
Your rental agreement may also include explicit language about your repair duties, such as that you are responsible for beautifying your house.
Your landlord cannot add a provision in your lease that transfers any of their maintenance duties to you, such as that you are liable for roof repairs. This sort of phrase would be unenforceable in a court of law.
Making a maintenance report to your landlord
In most situations, your landlord isn’t liable for repairs until they’re made aware of them, therefore it’s up to you to inform them of any issues.
Repair reporting is frequently a provision of your rental agreement, so you may be required to report any issues, even if they appear minor or if you are unconcerned about having them addressed.
Providing access to repair services
The majority of lease agreements include a clause stating that you must allow access for repair work and specifying which repairs your landlord is liable for as a safety check. If you have a written or verbal rental agreement, landlords or their representatives are often permitted access to observe repair work and advise who is responsible for repairs usually damp and mould problems are to be addressed by the landlord or the letting agent.
Before a visit, you should be given at least 24 hours’ notice and a suitable time of day, such as between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. You and your landlord might be able to work out a better time. Check your tenancy agreement; it may state that you have more than 24 hours to give notice.
You may also like to read: “What’s the hardest part about being a landlord?“
You have the option of denying entrance to your house. Without your consent, your landlord or their representative cannot enter. You may be in breach of your written or verbal tenancy agreement if you reject entry. Your agreement will not be immediately terminated if you violate a term, but your landlord may be able to get a court order requiring you to provide access. Your landlord may not be successful; a court determines whether or not a request for access is justified.
You have a responsibility to your guests
If your landlord believes you have breached a tenancy agreement term, they can approach the court for possession of the property. If your landlord wishes to evict you, for this reason, they must provide you written notice and convince a court that it is reasonable to do so.
If your landlord needs to get into your house in an emergency and can’t reach you, they can force an entrance. A busted pipe in your flat, for example, is allowing water to flow into the flat below. If your landlord needs to enter your house for an emergency repair, they must restore any damage they create.
You may also like to read: “Can you be evicted if you already moved out?“
Your landlord does not have to give you notice if the repair work is to a community space such as an entry hall.
You have a responsibility to your visitors to keep them and their things secure while they are in your house. This only applies if the guest was welcomed or permitted inside your house.
Installing and using your own appliances
Any of your own appliances, such as a washing machine, or anything you installed, such as a shower, are your responsibility.
If your landlord provided any electrical appliances, they are responsible for their upkeep, and your rental agreement may contain further details.
You may also like to read: “How long does it take to clean one room?“
Your landlord is also responsible for ensuring that any gas equipment they provided, such as a fitted gas fire, are safe.
What happens if you or a guest damages your property?
If you or someone visiting your house causes damage by mistake or on purpose, you will be liable for restoring it. You should inform your landlord about the necessary repairs. They could agree to undertake the job themselves and then bill you for it, or they might agree to let you fix it yourself.
To begin with, it is true that drying clothing inside can lead to humidity and mould growth. Especially if the rooms aren’t adequately heated or ventilated. As a result, the landlord has a point.
You may also like to read: “How to get my adult daughter to clean up the house herself?“
However, tenants must wash and dry their garments in some way. I agree that your living circumstances appear to be inadequate, and I recommend that you ask your landlord to replace your washing machine with a washer dryer.
In terms of the clause in your tenancy agreement, its enforceability will be determined by what it says and how “reasonable” it is.
You may also like to read: “Can my landlord sue me for not cleaning?“
The Office of Fair Trading (which oversees the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations) has stated that dictating renters’ day-to-day lives in rental houses is unjust. However, because it is well recognized that drying clothing indoors causes issues, this sort of provision is more likely to be regarded as reasonable than, for instance, a clause requiring you to wash down kitchen surfaces daily or clean the windows inside and out once a week.
What can the landlord do to enforce the provision if it is valid? During the period of the tenancy, the response is relatively small. On this premise, it is highly improbable that a Court would agree to terminate the tenancy and issue a possession order.
You may also like to read: “When can I terminate my rent agreement?“
However, nothing prevents your landlord from providing you with a section 21 notice and refusing to allow your tenancy to continue after the end of your fixed term and then evicting you on that ground if you refuse to depart.
In addition, if the landlord can prove that the re-decorating was necessitated by your infringement of the condition, he may be allowed to deduct the cost of the re-decorating from your deposit. Although it’s conceivable that you’ll be able to get a discount because your landlord didn’t supply you with enough drying facilities.