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A guide to landlords and property maintenance obligations

30November Author: Dave Dyer . Date Posted: 30th November, 2017

As a landlord, you’ll want to do all you can to keep your tenants safe and ensure that your property investment remains in a good state of repair. You’ll already be aware that it’s your responsibility to ensure that all water, gas and electrical systems are working properly.

But beyond this, do you know where you stand if a tenant makes a complaint or refuses to pay rent until certain repairs have been made? We’ll set out to answer some common questions below but remember that a good letting agent can act as a medium in the event a dispute arises. If you would like to speak to us about managing your property or obtain a rental valuation, just contact the Lettings Team on 01257 547062.

What are the fundamental obligations for property maintenance?

Landlords are generally responsible for:

• A property’s structure and exterior
• Wiring
• Gas appliances
• Basins and sinks, along with pipework and drains
• Heating and hot water

Make sure a Gas Safety Check is carried out annually by a registered engineer and give a copy of the certificate to your tenants. Electrical installations should be safe when tenants move in and maintained throughout the duration of the tenancy.

Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms should also be fitted and tested regularly – and you should also encourage your tenants to check on a frequent basis too. In addition, it is your duty to carry out a Legionella risk assessment and act quickly if, for example, a tenant reports a change in water temperature.

Remember to conduct a fire risk assessment. Get in touch with the local fire safety office if you’re ever in doubt or have a question about potential hazards in your property. Additional rules apply if you rent out a large house in multiple occupation. For further information, take a look at the Government’s guidelines here.

What about general maintenance around the rental property?

As a general rule, landlords are usually responsible for décor and fixtures but the tenant also has certain duties and responsibilities. Normal wear and tear is to be expected; wilful or careless disrepair is not, and could mean you are ultimately entitled to make a deduction from the deposit (although always seek advice before doing so).

Tenants should be expected to keep a property clean as well as carrying out minor maintenance around the property such as replacing the batteries in a smoke alarm, or changing a lightbulb.

Of course, this is where a written tenancy agreement and a detailed check-in inventory, drafted by a professional letting agent, will prove invaluable. The agreement sets out clearly who is responsible for what so all parties know exactly where they stand, while the inventory lists the condition of the property when the tenants moved in.

Should my tenants maintain the garden?

It all depends on what is included in your tenancy agreement. Typically, a landlord is responsible for the exterior of the building including windows and doors, along with paths and steps. You might agree with your tenant that they will mow the garden and weed the flower beds, but make sure that this is explicitly stated in the tenancy agreement.

How quickly should a landlord repair a reported problem?

It is a good idea to respond to any report within 24 hours, even if it is to simply acknowledge that your tenant has reached out to you. Keep a record in writing too: if you’ve phoned your tenant, send them a follow-up letter. Any non-urgent problems should be dealt with in a reasonable amount of time, and remember that if you’re struggling to get hold of a contractor, explain this to your tenant.

Here at Redrose, we’ve come up with a great solution that helps both landlords and tenants alike. Our PropertyFile app, allows tenants to report problems and to track maintenance jobs, while landlords can also use it to keep a record of progress and communication.

Can my tenants withhold rent over a repair dispute?

If a tenant simply stops paying rent because of a dispute over repairs, then you may have grounds for eviction. The tenancy agreement they have signed means that rent is always due on the date agreed. If they have a genuine grievance then they may want to seek legal advice, in which instance, good record-keeping and staying on top of maintenance issues on the part of the landlord will prove invaluable.

We’re the market leaders in Buckshaw Village and we have years of experience in working with responsible landlords and great tenants. What’s more, if you choose our Fully Managed Service, we will guide you through all aspects of letting out your property and support you in meeting all obligations. If you would like to request a free rental valuation, call our team on 01257 547062.

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