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Rental Property Maintenance for Landlords
With 14% of UKL renters, roughly 340,000 households being unaware of their rights, or legal obligations of their landlord, we explore rental property maintenance for landlords.
What Maintenance Should a Landlord Do?
Generally speaking, when it comes to rental property maintenance landlords will be legally responsible for the exterior and structure of the home. This responsibility for repairs typically encompasses the foundations of the property, roof, outside walls, windows and other exterior features such as drains and guttering. Alongside this, owners must ensure that bathroom pipework and fixtures are in working order, with all heating systems, radiators and wiring following suit.
Who Is Responsible for the Maintenance of a Rented Property?
With this being said the landlord is not exclusively responsible for the maintenance of the rental property. When moving in, tenants will be expected to behave in a tenant like manner seeing them take on light maintenance duties such as ensuring the rental is cleaned, waste is regularly disposed of and all alarms are in operational order. Alongside this, tenants will also be held accountable for any damage that occurs through guests in the property and potentially, outbreaks of damp and mould. Renters may also find themselves responsible for the general upkeep of outdoor spaces and gardens if this is stipulated within the terms of the tenancy agreement, but of course, this will vary between agreements and the rental space being offered.
Can a Landlord Enter a Property for Maintenance?
Landlords, letting agents and their representatives are unable to enter the property, even for repairs, without first obtaining the consent of the occupants. This is because upon the signing of the tenancy agreement the occupants of the property are empowered with the right to quiet enjoyment, meaning the tenants are entitled to full use of the rental property and its grounds whilst being left undisturbed by the owner and agents.
If the landlord wishes to carry out repairs they must first obtain permission form the occupants no later than 24 hours before the visit is intended to take place, with any inspection, viewing or repairs work being carried out during a reasonable time of the day.
It is also worth noting that whilst the occupants of the rental property are able to refuse entry to the landlord or letting agent, this is typically done to simply find a more mutually beneficial time for the visit to take place. However, if access is continually refused then the landlord will, not be held accountable for the lack of repairs and the tenants may be found in breach of their tenancy agreement.
How Long Do Landlords Have to Fix Problems?
It is important for renters to acknowledge that whilst their landlord is legally obligated to attend to the repairs and maintenance of the rental property, they must also be afforded “reasonable time” in which to carry out the appropriate work. Of course this does not provide much clarity to tenants that are waiting for work to be completed on their home, however, this reasonable timeframe will scale in accordance with the work that needs to be carried out, with a broken window being far faster to address than a burst pipe.
With this being said it is essential that the occupants of the rental property do not dismiss their responsibility towards the upkeep of their home. Although the owner or letting agent may carry out periodic checks, inspecting the condition of the property and its contents, this will only occur a handful of times throughout the tenancy and they cannot be expected to catch every issue within the rental. However, alongside being expected to conduct themselves in a tenant like manner, seeing the tenants perform basic duties such as replacing fire alarm batteries and cleaning, they will also be responsible for informing the landlord when repairs are needed. Naturally, the occupants of the property will spend far more time within the rental and be able to better observe any deterioration in its condition. Not only will keeping the landlord up to date with any repairs ensure that the property is free from hazards, but ensures that the remedial work is at worst, little and often, instead of demanding that the owner undertake expensive and drawn-out repairs because a small issue was left ignored for a number of months.
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