A detailed examination of your legal responsibilities regarding landlord repairs and maintenance can be found in Rentify’s free guide ‘Landlords and the Law‘. Here we look at some tips to minimise stress and avoid problems when it comes to any work that must be done to your property. Communication with the tenant is absolutely essential: both parties must quickly establish what the problem is, who is responsible, and when and how the repairs will be done.
Make sure your tenant knows their responsibilities: Make your tenancy agreement clear and watertight. Issue a check-list of their responsibilities at the start of the tenancy and go through it together. They must look after the property, report all damage and be responsible for the ‘little jobs’ a reasonable person would do (e.g. replacing batteries in smoke alarms and unblocking drains). They also need to provide you with reasonable access so the work can be done.
Preventative maintenance: Although you are only legally obliged to fix an immediate problem, a full replacement may prove a cheaper option in the long run (e.g. replacing a leaking pipe rather than just having it patched up). After all, emergency call-outs will almost always be more expensive than preventative maintenance. Keep in contact with the tenant about any concerns and check the property yourself (with their permission).
Delays could cost you money and peace of mind: If you delay necessary work despite a tenant’s repeated written requests, say over a period of 2-3 weeks, they have the right to employ someone to do it and then request a refund from you. If you do not refund the costs they should be able to have them deducted from their rent. Not only is it unlikely that they’ll get the best deal but this process could put a significant strain on your relationship. Also know that If the work takes excessively long or causes excessive disruption, the tenant could claim compensation.
Be fair about wear and tear: The tenant is responsible for damage they cause, but not responsible for everyday wear and tear. Some borderline issues may well arise. If it’s a minor issue try to give the tenant the benefit of the doubt (if they are worth keeping that is!)