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As a landlord do you know exactly what repairs you are responsible for?

Landlords dealing with emergencies and repairs FAQs

The fact is if the property is a flat or apartment then the landlord will have different responsibilities for repairs than if a whole house.

Some repairs that are required for a flat could be the responsibility of the building freeholder or proportionally divided between all leaseholders.

They typically include maintenance and repairs of interior communal areas and the exterior of the building, from walls, roofs, and possibly windows. And often outside communal areas, fences, garden walls, and parking areas. If you own and have the whole house let, then everything will be your responsibility. 

Your tenancy agreement will determine what your tenants are responsible for, this commonly covers 

  • Routine cleaning

  • Routine garden maintenance, grass cutting, and weeding

  • Repairs to anything the tenant owns or has brought into the property

  • Minor maintenance, for example, replacing light bulbs and fixing dripping taps 

  • Damage that is caused by a tenant or their guests, or damage caused by a tenant’s misuse of the property. This includes damage that a landlord would otherwise be responsible for. In these cases, a landlord is entitled to charge for the cost of the repair

Commonly plumbing issues. But of course, all manner of faults may need resolving including electrical, gas, or faulty fixtures and fittings. Appliances also commonly break down after extended use, wear & tear. This is going to be for the landlord to resolve whatever the property type. Either via their Managing Agent or via themselves directly.  

maintenance timescales

Once reported or discovered repairs should be completed within a 'reasonable period'. This varies depending on how urgent or otherwise the repair is. Tenants are also required to cooperate and give access to the property with reasonable notice to allow repairs to be completed.

Ocean's property management team highlights these time frames along with the automated and emergency procedure for reporting maintenance issues in the provided 'Tenant handbook'. 

When carrying out repairs landlords are only required to carry out a like-for-like repair. However, there can be cases when replacing an item with a new one is more cost-effective. Appointing professional tradesmen is always recommended.

Ocean's portfolio manager provides emergency & out-of-hours contractors' contact details via the tenant handbook and Ocean website. An online Fixflo system, which allows tenants to report maintenance issues quickly and accurately. If you manage the property yourself it is certainly recommended you confirm trusted contractors such as emergency plumbers and electricians to appoint when needed.

If a landlord fails to meet their legal repairing responsibilities, or the property is in disrepair or unfit for human habitation, it is possible for tenants to take legal action against the landlord for breach of contract. A court can order a landlord to carry out the work and/or the tenant may be awarded damages against the landlord. In some cases, a tenant may be able to carry out the repair themselves and deduct the cost from the rent.

Local authorities may also become involved when a property is in a state of disrepair. They may carry out an inspection using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to identify relevant risks and hazards and may take action under the Housing Act 2004 and other legislation.

Local authorities can issue guidance to landlords by means of a hazard awareness notice or instruct landlords to carry out necessary repairs by means of an improvement notice. They can carry out repairs themselves in some cases. Local authorities can also issue a prohibition notice which prevents the property from being lived in or restricts the number of people allowed to live there. Local authorities can also prosecute landlords who fail to comply with their repairing responsibilities.

Ocean would recommend landlords take out a fully comprehensive landlord insurance policy. Whilst landlords feel the tenant’s deposit provides security and covers expenditure, it should be remembered that there are a large number of faults and issues that may occur during the course of a tenancy that could easily exceed the value of the deposit. 

So, to safeguard against being left out of pocket, it’s important to have a comprehensive insurance policy in place to protect against many of the eventualities.

It is possible a regular home insurance policy could cover you as the homeowner - check the tenancy clauses, but it may not cover more complex damages or scenarios, such as your tenants needing temporary accommodation in the event of serious property damage.

  • Liability cover – in case a tenant becomes injured whilst living at your property and attempts to sue you
  • Alternative accommodation cover – if your property becomes seriously damaged, many landlord policies will pay for tenants to find temporary accommodation
  • Standard home insurance aspects – including buildings insurance, cable, underground pipe cover and cover against subsidence, etc.
  • Cover for unoccupied properties – many policies will cover your property whilst it’s left unoccupied, such as during void periods.
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We hope this article was useful, if you have any questions our team will be happy to help.

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