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What Is a ‘Reasonable’ Repair Request?

Most renters know their landlords are responsible for repairs throughout the property, but when it comes to the small stuff and maintenance, they’re not really sure who is credited for what and what they can ask their landlords to fix. 

Landlords are responsible for making sure their properties are fit for use. Their responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Maintaining the plumbing
  • Ensuring the heating works
  • Fixing faulty appliances
  • Keeping the structure sound
  • Removing all possible hazards

Repairs in rental properties can sometimes create tension between landlords and tenants. To clarify and to help along this area, here are some tips on how to negotiate with your landlord and be reasonable in your requests.

Legal Requirements

In Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, it states that landlords must maintain the exterior and interior structure of a rental property, which also includes drains, pipes, and gutters.

Providing a supply of gas, electricity, and water is a core landlord responsibility. Furthermore, there must be timely safety inspections to ensure gas and electrical equipment is fit for use.

However, the TV, washing machine and other non-essential appliances, are not covered by this law. They must not pose a danger to tenants, but landlords cannot be forced to repair or replace them, unless it’s specifically included in the tenancy agreement.

Reasonable Requests

Keep in mind that your rent covers maintenance. Therefore, you are within your rights to request your landlord to do repairs and maintenance to your property.

While it may be unreasonable to request your landlord to install new expensive appliances that you want, it’s always reasonable to request repairs to the ones you already have.

In fact, you need to report repairs as fast as possible because they can get worse and more costly the longer they are neglected.

You should give the landlord enough time to conduct the repairs. It’s appropriate for tenants to try and assist the landlord with organizing the work for example by obtaining quotes from different companies or arranging inspections.

Natural Damage

When something breaks, it is critical to know who is responsible and therefore liable for fixing the problem.

Landlords are required to reimburse and cover the costs when damage is caused by wear and tear – the slow deterioration of things. Tenants are not liable for wear and tear damage of the property or any appliances and furniture provided by the landlord. An example of wear and tear is a stove element that gradually deteriorates from normal cooking.

However, the tenant is liable for any careless and intentional damage. If the stove element was being used to heat the kitchen and failed after working for prolonged periods of time, that’s improper exploitation and tenants will be liable for its replacement.

Tenants responsibilities

Repairs and maintenance are the responsibility of the landlord. However, that doesn’t mean tenants are void of any obligation.

In fact, it’s the tenants’ duty to monitor is every part of the house is in good working conditions. If there are problems arising, they are more easily and cheaply resolved when preventative work is carried out before an actual failure occurs.

For example, if the electrical system is randomly shutting off several times a day, likely there is a weak wire or connection that is going to burn out soon and cause a short circuit damaging the installation further along with any appliances. Not to mention this can cause a fire and burn the whole building down.

Reporting it immediately will allow the landlord to get an electrician to the property before a disaster happens.

In some cases, the landlord delegates their tenants the task of finding a handyman and organizing the repairs, while the landlord covers the cost. This usually saves time and is more convenient for the tenants as they get to choose who goes into the property.

Speaking of which, tenants must provide access to the property for repairs and maintenance. The landlord cannot come to visit unannounced or without your approval. Tenants have a right to keep everybody out, but using that right inappropriately will cause more problems in the future.

Preventing the landlord from upholding their repairs duty may make you liable for the cost of any damage that occurs as a result.

Obviously, any damage caused by the tenant or as a result of their action (or inaction) is their responsibility and they will become liable for the cost.

Consequences for landlords who don’t do repairs

You should also try to negotiate politely with your landlord and seek a peaceful solution to any problem. Be patient, but resilient and chase issues before they turn into a danger to your health.

Aside from unhappy tenants, landlords who disregard their repair duties may face significant consequences.

If a landlord is unresponsive and fails and refuses to carry out repairs, which pose health hazards, tenants should contact the environmental health department of their local council.

The council will send an inspector to verify the claims and prescribe an improvement notice to the landlord.

Improvement notices prevent the landlord from using Section 21 eviction procedures, therefore protecting tenants from revenge evictions. Not obeying the improvement notice will eventually cause the local council to fine the landlord for a serious sum.

If the landlord doesn’t cater to their property and continues to ignore the problems, tenants can escalate the matter into the courts and seek a rent repayment order.

For really severe cases where lives are endangered, for example by having a faulty gas installation, no gas safety certificate and no carbon monoxide detectors, landlords can be criminally charged and have their property closed down indefinitely.

Takeaway

Landlords and tenants must know their legal responsibilities in order for them to have a harmonious and peaceful life.

Renters must fully understand the rules and regulations stated by the landlord to avoid arguments and stress. If you have any concerns about the house or apartment, it is best to talk to the landlord, work to resolve the problem in a civilized fashion.

However, if your landlord is not meeting their legal duties, be sure that you have rights and there are places you can go for help.

Author’s Bio:

Analisse Weathers is a blogger and writer. She mainly writes about home improvement, repairs, and interior design. You can find her articles on just about anything home-related – decoration, kitchens and even…mattress ratings and reviews. Analisse loves to write these topics as she aspires to become an interior designer someday. In her spare time, she spends time with her family and friends.

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 category.

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