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Responsibility for Repairs

Fortunately, the law is very clear about a Landlord’s responsibilities and these are laid out in Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985. Essentially a Landlord has a statutory responsibility for repairs to the following:

  • The property’s structure and exterior including the roof, walls, windows and doors
  • Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings including pipes and drains
  • Heating and hot water systems • gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
  • And electrical wiring

It should be noted that there is no statutory obligation for a Landlord to repair white goods even if these are included in the rental, and listed on the inventory. Similarly, a Landlord has no statutory responsibility for dealing with pests or vermin. However, the Landlord would be responsible if the infestation was due to disrepair to the structure of the property.

Common law, rather than statute, sets out the Tenant’s responsibilities and tenants have a legal obligation to act in a “tenant like manner”. This phrase was originally coined by Judge Denning in 1953 in the Warren v Keen case, the leading case on a Tenant’s repairing responsibilities. In his judgement, Lord Denning stated that Tenants are responsible for all those little jobs that are required as part of the normal occupancy of any property. This would include things such as: Changing light-bulbs and batteries in smoke detectors, Unblocking your own toilets or sinks, Mowing lawns and keeping the gardens tidy.

The tenancy agreement may also include additional contractual obligations for both Landlord and Tenant. Responsibility for cleaning chimneys, dealing with pests or vermin and repairs to white goods may well be detailed in the agreement. Finally, it should be noted that since the introduction of the Deregulation Act in 2015, a Section 21 Notice may now be deemed invalid if there is an issue of disrepair. It is therefore more important than ever for Landlords to fully understand their repairing obligations.