In this article
• Understanding your responsibilities as a tenant
• Common repairs and maintenance jobs
• Distinguishing between tenant and landlord responsibilities
When renting a home you must take good care of the landlord’s property and make sure it is returned in the same condition as when you moved in. The line between your tenant responsibilities and those of your landlord is sometimes blurred, but it’s important to know where you stand. Your tenancy agreement is a good place to start as it will include a list of duties, but it is not exhaustive and can be confusing.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 covers many aspects of renting a property and in Section 11 the law states that the landlord must:
a) keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes),
b) keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity), and
c) keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water.
All other areas should be covered in your tenancy agreement and you should maintain the property to the standard that it was in when you moved in.
What the law means
Providing that your landlord has maintained the property to a good standard before you moved in, the care of the property is the responsibility of the tenant. This does not mean all repairs become tenant’s duty, but if you do not take good care of the property or are negligent then you will lose all or part of your deposit, be charged for the cost of repairs or face eviction. Therefore, it is essential that you report all safety issues and repairs required during your tenancy.
Your tenancy agreement will outline a range of duties for you to carry out regularly which may or may not include these common tasks:
• Change light bulbs
• Keep the garden neat and tidy
Note that if the landlord does not provide tools for this you need to factor garden maintenance into your monthly costs (this may provide scope for negotiation for tenants). If the tools do appear on the inventory, you must keep them in good working order.
• Maintain all internal decoration, appliances and furniture (if included)
If you damage or break something accidentally or on purpose, it must be repaired or replaced; this is exclusive of wear and tear.
• Turn the water off (at the mains) during periods of absence in cold weather
• Replace batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
• No pets without written agreement from the landlord
• Follow instructions for heating systems
• Clean the windows
• Make sure the property is well ventilated to prevent damp
• Report repairs that are needed which are the responsibility of your landlord
The responsibilities of a landlord are:
• The exterior of the property – drains and gutters are in a good state of repair
• Gas, electricity, water supplies and all sanitation installations are in good working order
• Maintain heating systems
Where to go for help
The Tenancy Agreement Service is a great resource with plenty of information on tenant and landlord responsibilities. For advice on what to if you cause damage to the property the Citizens Advice website is helpful. Or if you want to know more about taking care of a property the Shelter website can be very useful.
Disclaimer: This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.
We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our Rights and responsibilities category.
If you experience problems with your tenancy deposit, have disrepair in your rented property or suspect that your landlord should have a licence to rent your property but does not have one then you can receive a free consultation by calling our advice service: Call Tenant Assist on 0333 344 3788.
For more ways to reach us, please visit our contacts page.