Responsibilities for repairs
Council and housing association landlords are normally responsible for most repairs. As a tenant, you are probably only responsible for some minor maintenance and for putting right any damage you have caused.
What am I responsible for?
It’s up to you to look after the property and avoid causing any damage wherever possible.
- keeping your home reasonably clean
- not damaging the property or any contents provided, and not allowing your family or guests to do so either
- carrying out minor maintenance, like checking smoke alarm batteries
- using the heating properly, to avoid dampness and burst pipes.
In most cases, you will also be responsible for interior decoration. Your tenancy agreement should set out exactly who is responsible for what.
What is my landlord responsible for?
Your landlord will always be responsible for repairs (unless your tenancy is for a fixed term of 7 years or more) to:
- the structure and exterior of the building – this includes the roof, walls, windows and external doors
- central heating, gas fires, fireplaces, flues, ventilation and chimneys
- water, pipes, basins, sinks, toilets and baths, drains and guttering
- gas pipes, electrical wiring, and any appliances provided
- common parts such as lift, communal entrances.
They must also make sure that your home is free from any hazards that could affect the health and safety of anyone in your household.
Your tenancy agreement may give your landlord extra obligations, such as the maintenance of fences or boundary walls around your home – check to see what it says.
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 what’s causing the problem. But your landlord will usually be responsible if the damp is the result of:
- leaking pipes
- a structural defect (such as a leaking roof)
- an existing damp proof course that is no longer working (if there wasn’t one to begin with, your landlord does not have to put one in).
Condensation is often caused by lack of ventilation, lack of insulation, and/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 the council’s environmental health department 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 my own appliances and installations?
Your landlord is only responsible for maintaining any electrical appliances and installations that have been supplied with the property.
They are not responsible for repairing any appliances or installations that belong to you or which you have had installed. For example, if you have bought a dishwasher or tumble drier and had it installed, you will be responsible for its upkeep.
What about communal areas?
Your landlord is responsible for repairs to areas that are shared with other people, such as hallways, stairs, or lifts.
What about gardens?
Your tenancy agreement should say who has responsibility for the upkeep of your garden. It is often the tenant’s responsibility, although this doesn’t mean that you will have to improve the garden if it is in a mess when you move in.
If the garden is shared with other tenants, you may all share responsibility for the upkeep, unless one tenant has agreed to take it on. However if the garden is not mentioned at all it is possible that neither you nor your landlord has responsibility.
What about decorating?
Tenants are usually responsible for the internal decorations unless work is needed because of dampness or disrepair that is the landlord’s responsibility. Before carrying out any redecoration you should get your landlord’s consent.