Landlord liability for repairs

Introduction

In most cases in the private rented sector, landlords are expected to keep any property they let to tenants, in a good state of repair and well maintained. Equally, tenants are expected to ensure they act in a 'tenant-like manner' and not cause damage to the property besides anything that would class as 'fair wear and tear'.

To ensure landlords understand these obligations in full, this guidance will cover the obligations placed on them and their tenants during the life of a tenancy. In it we will discuss what is meant by a repair as opposed to an improvement, the scope of Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, what the landlord is responsible for under the Defective Premises Act 1972, and information on other areas of the law where a repair may be necessary. 

Landlord's repairing obligations under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

Every residential tenancy of less than 7 years has a term implied into it under which the landlord undertakes various repairing responsibilities. These are:

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The rest of this content requires you to register for an account to read it. It answers questions like - 

  • when is a landlord liable for repairs?
  • what is meant by keeping a property in repair?
  • what is the standard of repair?
  • how long do you have to make a repair?
  • who enforces a disrepair claim?
  • How has coronavirus affected your ability to perform repairs?
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How does coronavirus affect my ability to perform repairs?

Landlords are still under a legal obligation to keep their property in repair and ensure any necessary inspections of the property are performed but this must be balanced against the risk of the infection or spread of the virus.

At the present time, this means that routine repairs and inspections can be performed. However, if you or a contractor visit the property you should follow the Government’s guidance for people working in homes if you are letting property in England, and the guidance for working in Wales. Primarily this means communicating with the tenants prior to arrival, and on arrival, to ensure they understand the social distancing and hygiene measures that need to be followed during your visit.

Anyone self-isolating is advised to avoid having any visitors to their home unless the repair work is needed to prevent a threat to their safety or life. If the tenant informs you they are self-isolating, you should cancel any planned visits or inspections and rearrange them for a suitable time in the future. Ensure this is documented.

Anyone shielding is advised not to have visitors until 1 August 2020. After this time they are advised to allow access for repairs but landlords should be aware and sensitive to the fact they may not want visitors in their property even after this date.

What if my tenant is self-isolating, and we need to perform repairs to the property?

Anyone self-isolating is advised to avoid any visitors to their home. This may affect landlords' ability to inspect properties or organise maintenance or repairs.

In these circumstances, we advise the landlord to keep a dialogue going with tenant. You should document the reason you cannot carry out the repair. Ask the tenant to explain in an email or writing that they are self-isolating and that they are advised not to allow visitors to the property.

If you need access for a repair, landlords need to make a judgement on the urgency of the situation. Any repairs that can be put off, should be put off. As the market re-opens, landlords should perform non-essential repairs and maintenance during the void period between tenants if possible.

Essential works, such as water supply, sanitation and heating failure will still need to be addressed. Landlords, their representatives and tradespeople should ensure they are following the Government’s guidance on working in people’s homes while this work is performed.

If an urgent repair is identified, then you may enter the property with the permission of the tenant. You and any contractors present should ensure you are not symptomatic. In addition, you should follow all guidelines on social distancing and hand washing while the work or inspection is performed.

Contractors and tenants may also wish to contact Public Health England for further guidance when a property repair is required and the tenant is self-isolating

Accessing the property for repairs

Landlords are entitled to access the property on 24 hours advance notice to inspect the property's condition or to make repairs. More detailed guidance on this is available in our guidance on accessing the property.

Accessing The Property During A Tenancy

Last Updated: 27/07/2020

NRLA's guide to accessing the property

Responsibility for appliances and other goods supplied by the landlord

There are various consumer protection laws that cover the requirements around appliances supplied with the property. Most will typically require that these appliances be safe at the point they are supplied. This may extend to needing things like fire safety marking for things like couches.

Where the property is advertised with working appliances, there is also an expectation that the items will continue to work throughout the tenancy.

In addition to this, most contracts include clauses making the landlord responsible for the repair of these items unless the tenant has damaged it.

In HMO properties (three or more people with at least 2 unrelated to each other), landlords are obliged as part of their management duties, to ensure that the appliances they supply for common use are maintained in a good, safe standard of repair and kept clean.

How do I check the appliances I supply?

Typically portable appliance testing is not mandatory but is sensible.

For properties licensed under a selective, additional or mandatory scheme portable appliance testing will be required as part of the licence conditions.

Gifting goods to the tenants

As the requirement to maintain portable appliances only applies to items that the tenant does not have a right to remove from the property, some landlords prefer to gift the items to the tenants. If you do wish to engage in this practice then you should ensure that:

  1. The goods are safe at the time you supply them;
  2. You have made it clear in writing which items are being gifted to the tenants (usually in the tenancy agreement).

Once gifted, these items belong to the tenant and you have no right to them back at the end of the tenancy. You should think carefully about which items to gift in these cases as the lack of an appliance may make the property less attractive for some tenants. For example, students are unlikely to have their own washing machine or other large appliances. Similarly, as the tenant is entitled to remove the item from the property, if it is a large appliance then they may cause damage when they remove it.