Repairs - what are the tenant's responsibilities?
What are you responsible for?
If you're renting from a private landlord and have an assured shorthold tenancy, read our advice about what repairs your landlord has to do.
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.
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
Most tenancy agreements include a term that says you must give access for repair work and will list what repairs your landlord is responsible for. If you have a written or verbal tenancy agreement - there’s a general understanding landlords or their agents are allowed access to see repair work.
You should get at least 24 hours notice before a visit and be offered a reasonable time of day, for example between 8am and 6pm. You might be able to agree a more suitable time with your landlord. Check your tenancy agreement, it might say you’re allowed more than 24 hours notice.
You can refuse access to your home. Your landlord or their agent can’t enter without your permission. If you refuse access you might break the term of your written or verbal tenancy agreement. Breaking a term won’t automatically cancel your agreement, but your landlord might be able to get a court order that says you have to give access. Your landlord might not be successful - it’s a judge that decides if a request for access is reasonable.
Your landlord can also ask the court for possession of the property if they think you have broken a term of the tenancy agreement. If your landlord wants to end your tenancy for this reason, they’ll need to serve you written notice and persuade a court it’s reasonable to evict you.
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.
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