Thursday, 15 June 2017

Ask Andy – ‘Help! My Warrington landlord won’t carry out repairs!’



Question:

‘Hi Andy,
I’ve reported some repairs to my landlord and they are refusing to do them, saying they are my responsibility as a tenant. I thought all repairs in a rented property had to be done through the landlord?
What should I do?
Thanks,
Jane’

Andy’s Answer:

Hi Jane,
Without knowing the specific repairs to which you refer, it’s a bit difficult to give a definitive answer. However, there are certain repairs/maintenance issues which are a tenant’s responsibility. It’s defined as keeping the property in a ‘tenant like manner’.
Hopefully I can clear up the issue that you have at the moment.
Firstly, both your and the landlord’s responsibilities should be written out in the tenancy agreement which you should have signed before you moved in.

What maintenance is a landlord’s responsibility?

Some examples of what the landlord is expected to repair and keep in good working order includes:

·         The structure and exterior of the property (including drains, gutters, external pipes, roof, external walls and foundations, etc.)

·         The installations in the property for the supply of gas, electricity, water and sanitation (this includes basins, sinks and other sanitary ware)

·         The installation for hot water and heating in the property

So this covers the vast majority of repairs which might occur throughout a tenancy. More major things such as rebuilding or reinstating the property if destroyed by fire or flood are not expected of the landlord – touch wood they never happen.

What maintenance is a tenant’s responsibility?

As a tenant, you’re expected to keep the property in a ‘tenant like manner’.  This means a few things. It means that landlords are not expected to repair or maintain items which tenants have broken through negligence or misuse, or if the property is not being kept in a tenant like manner.

There are also regular odd jobs that might arise during occupation of a property which the tenant must deal with. Some examples include:

·         Changing light bulbs
·         Changing batteries in smoke detectors
·         Topping up a boiler when required
·         Bleeding radiators
·         Unblocking toilets and sinks
·         Keeping the grass cut and sweeping up leaves
·         Taking care of pests
·         Wiping excess moisture away from windows (condensation)

I’ve found that the most common argument over responsibility is condensation issues. As condensation is caused by lifestyle (drying clothes indoors, not opening windows, etc) then it is a tenant’s responsibility, however many people do not know the difference between condensation and damp (of which damp is a landlord’s responsibility).

What does ‘tenant like manner’ mean?

The term ‘tenant like manner’ relates to a court case (Warren v Keen 1953). Its definition here is used as the meaning today:

‘The tenant must take proper care of the premises. He must, if he is going away for the winter, turn off the water and empty the boiler. He must clean the chimneys when necessary and also the windows. He must mend the electric light when it fuses. He must unstop the sink when it is blocked by his waste. In short, he must do the little jobs around the place which a reasonable tenant would do. In addition, he must not, of course, damage the house wilfully or negligently… but apart from such things, if the house falls into disrepair through fair wear and tear or lapse of time, or for any reason not caused by him, the tenant is not liable to repair it.’

I’ve always found that a good rule of thumb is that if you owned the house, would you call in a contractor to resolve the issue? If the answer is no, it’s most likely your responsibility as a tenant to manage.

I hope this has answered your question.

However if you have any further questions, feel free to drop me an email or give me a call. Email me on andy@hamletwarrington.co.uk or call on 01925 235338. If you are in the area, feel free to pop into the office – we are based on 6 Bankside, Crosfield St, WA1 1UP. There is plenty of free parking and the kettle is always on.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Warrington Property News.