Responsibilities for repairs if you have a private landlord
- Landlords are responsible for most major repairs
- You are probably responsible for any damage you cause
- You should check the supplementary and additional terms of your contract to find out what you are responsible for
Responsibilities for repairs
Private landlords are responsible for most major repairs. If you rent from a private landlord, you are usually only responsible for minor maintenance, and for putting right any damage you or your visitors have caused. Your renting agreement may say that you have other responsibilities, but this isn’t always binding.
Download our disrepair factsheet for further information.
What am I responsible for?
As a contract-holder, you have to use your home in a responsible way. This includes;
- keeping it reasonably clean
- not damaging the property, and ensuring that your guests don’t either
- carrying out minor maintenance (eg. changing light bulbs)
- using the heating properly (eg. not blocking flues or ventilation).
If you cause any damage to the property or the furniture, even if it’s accidental, your landlord will probably be able to charge you for it. Your landlord may keep your deposit (or at least part of it) to cover the cost of any repairs or replacements. You may have some extra responsibilities to carry out repairs if your occupation contract says so. Check what it says, but bear in mind that no matter what it says, your landlord is always responsible for certain things (see below).
If your landlord is trying to keep your deposit for repairs or damage, then see our advice pages on deposits.
What is my landlord responsible for?
If your occupation contract is for less than 7 years, your landlord is always responsible for repairs to:
- the structure and exterior of the building – such as the walls, roof, external doors and windows
- sinks, baths, toilets and other sanitary fittings, including pipes and drains
- heating and hot water
- all gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
- electrical wiring.
Your landlord is also responsible for putting right any damage to internal decorations that was caused by the disrepair or while repairs they are responsible for are carried out.
Does it matter what my occupation contract says?
If your contract says that you are responsible for something that isn’t your landlord’s legal responsibility (eg. maintaining the garden) then it is probably valid. However, landlords can’t get out of their legal responsibilities no matter what the contract says. For example, if there is an additional term that says you are responsible for repairing the heating it probably cannot be enforced as these are things that are automatically the landlord’s legal responsibility.
Most people renting from a private landlord should be given a written occupation contract. If you don’t have a written agreement, or it doesn’t say who is responsible for specific things, your landlord still has legal responsibilities (as set out above).
Your landlord may be responsible for replacing or repairing any other items or appliances that are faulty and were provided at the start of your contract. However, much will depend on what was agreed at the start of the contract. Check your contract as this may clarify if your landlord is responsible.
What about damp?
Your home could be affected by any of the 3 common types of damp:
- penetrating damp
- rising damp.
It isn’t always easy to work out who is responsible for sorting out problems with damp, because it’s often difficult to identify the cause. However, landlords are usually responsible for getting repairs done if the dampness is the result of:
- leaking pipes
- a structural defect (such as leaking roof or cracked wall)
- an existing damp proof course that is no longer working (if there wasn’t one to begin with, your landlord is not liable).
Condensation is often caused by a lack of ventilation, lack of insulation, or inadequate heating. Where this is the case, the landlord must take steps to remedy the problem, for example, by improving the heating or ventilation in the property. Bear in mind though that condensation can also be caused by drying clothes indoors or not using heating systems properly. If this is the case, your landlord is probably not responsible.
You can contact environmental health or the housing standards team at the council if your landlord doesn’t fix the damp problem. They can inspect the property and take action against the landlord if they think there is damp and/or mould growth causing a hazard.
What about communal areas?
Hallways, stairs and lifts, are usually the responsibility of the landlord. If there are other flats in the building that your landlord doesn’t own, s/he probably shares the responsibility for common areas with the other owners.
What about gardens?
If your occupation contract does not say that you have to maintain the garden then it will not be your responsibility. However if the garden is not mentioned at all it might not be anyone’s responsibility.
What about decorating and other work?
You should check the supplementary and additional terms of your occupation contract to see what it says about decorating and other work. Contract-holders are usually responsible for minor jobs, unless they are caused by disrepair or damp that is the landlord’s responsibility, or are due to normal wear and tear. You should not have to redecorate before you leave unless your contract says so or you have damaged the decoration. In these situations, the landlord will probably not have to redecorate either.
If you want to redecorate or have other work done (e.g. installing a satellite dish), get the landlord’s agreement first. Bear in mind that you may not be able to do exactly what you want.
Contract-holders are responsible for not damaging the property, but normal wear and tear is to be expected. Landlords shouldn’t keep your deposit, or expect you to pay for things that have worn out from normal use. See our pages on deposits for more advice.