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Disrepair - what are the tenant's responsibilities?

If you rent your home from a private or social housing landlord, they're responsible for dealing with most repair problems. However, as tenant, you also have some responsibilities to keep your home in a good state of repair.

This page tells you what your main responsibilities are.

What are you responsible for?

As tenant, you're responsible for:

  • looking after your home by using it in a 'tenant like' way,
  • telling your landlord about the repairs that are needed,
  • providing access to have any repair work done, and
  • having a duty of care to your visitors.

Looking after your home

The law implies a condition into every tenancy agreement that the tenant must use their home in a ‘tenant-like’ way. This applies whether you have a written or an oral tenancy agreement.

Using your home in a tenant-like way generally means:

  • doing minor repairs yourself, such as changing fuses and light bulbs
  • keeping your home reasonably clean
  • not causing any damage to the property and making sure your visitors don’t cause any damage
  • using any fixtures and fittings properly, for example, not blocking a toilet by flushing something unsuitable down it.

Your tenancy agreement may also set out some express terms on what your responsibilities are for repairs, for example, that you are responsible for decorating your home.

Your landlord cannot include a term in your agreement that would pass on any of their repair responsibilities to you, for example, that you are responsible for repairs to the roof. This type of term would not have any force in law.

What repair work is your landlord responsible for?

Generally, your landlord is responsible for repairing:

  • the structure and exterior of your home, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors
  • basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
  • water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.

Your landlord mustn't pass the cost of any repair work that is their responsibility on to you.

Reporting repairs to your landlord

In most cases, your landlord isn't responsible for repair work until they know about it, so it's up to you to tell them about any repairs that are needed.

Reporting repairs is often a condition of your tenancy agreement, so you may have to report any problems even if they seem quite small or if you’re not too concerned about getting them fixed.

Providing access to have repair work done

The law implies a condition into every tenancy agreement that you must give access for repair work. This applies whether you have a written or an oral tenancy agreement.

Your landlord or their agent, has the right to access your home to see what repair work is needed and to carry out the repairs. Unless it’s an emergency, they must give you at least 24 hours' notice in writing.

If there's an emergency and your landlord can't get hold of you, they can force entry if they need to get into your home. For example, a burst pipe in your flat is causing water to leak into the flat below. However, if your landlord does break into your home to deal with an emergency repair, they have to repair any damage caused.

If the repair work is to a communal area such as an entrance hall, your landlord doesn't have to give you notice to do the work.

Duty of care to your visitors

You have a duty of care to your visitors to ensure that they and their belongings are reasonably safe when in your home. This only applies if you invited or allowed the visitor into your home.

Your own appliances and installations

You're responsible for repairing any of your own appliances such as a washing machine, or anything that you had installed, such as a shower.

If your landlord supplied any electrical appliances, they are responsible for maintaining them and your tenancy agreement may give more information about this.

Your landlord is also responsible for ensuring that any gas appliances which they supplied are safe, for example, a fitted gas fire.

What happens if you or a visitor causes damage to your home?

If you or someone visiting your home accidentally or deliberately causes damage, you'll be responsible for repairing it. You should tell your landlord about the repair work needed. They may agree to do the work themselves and then recharge the cost to you, or they may agree to you fixing it yourself.

If you live in private rented accommodation and you don't repair the damage, your landlord will probably claim some money out of your tenancy deposit when you move out.

What if your landlord doesn’t do anything about the repairs?

If your landlord doesn't do anything after you report the repair, you may decide to take other action. There are several options open to you, some of which are different depending on whether you have a private landlord or a social housing landlord.

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