Who is Responsible for Repairs in Rented Housing?


If you currently live in a rented flat or house, you may be wondering who is responsible for repairs. For example, say your refrigerator has broken or your heating is not working. Who should you contact for help and who is going to pay the bill? If this has never happened to you, you may not know. The answer is, most of the time, you should be able to get help from your landlord. But let’s take a closer look in order to answer this question.

What the Law Says

The law is very clear on who has the responsibility to carry out and pay for repairs and maintenance; the landlord of the property. The law is contained within the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Under section 11, the landlord must repair:

  • The structure and exterior of the dwelling e.g. drains, gutters and pipes.
  • The installations of the dwelling for water, gas and electricity.
  • The installations of the dwelling for heating and heating water.

While the law makes it clear what the landlord should repair and maintain, it also says what they are not required to do. For example, if there has fire, floor or other accident, they do not have to rebuild the property. They also do not have to maintain or repair anything that belongs to the tenant.

If you discover a tenancy agreement that goes against this law, it will be illegal and invalid. For example, if it states that a tenant will be responsible for the repair of the dwelling exterior, this is wrong and you should seek legal help.

Maintaining and Repairing Electricals

All electricals within rented accommodation must be maintained by the landlord. This includes everything from switches and sockets to light fittings. If there is a problem, contact your landlord and they should make sure issues are dealt with. Repairs should be high-priority to ensure the safety of tenants.

If your rented flat or house has included electrical appliances, such as a refrigerator, washing machine or kettle, it is their responsibility to fix or replace them. However, if you have bought or brought these electrical appliances with you, they are your responsibility if something goes wrong.

The High Priority of Gas Safety

If your property has gas appliances or installations, it is essential that you report any problems as soon as possible to your landlord. It is their responsibility to maintain and carry out repairs. There is a danger to life if gas safety is not maintained and this means that repairs are of the highest priority and should be carried out as soon as possible.

An annual gas safety check should be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. A certificate must be provided and available for tenants to see. Therefore, before you move into a new property, ask the landlord to see the gas safety certificate so that you can ensure it is safe for you and your family.

The Tenant is Responsible for Reporting Damages

The landlord cannot be responsible for appliance or installation problems that have not been reported by the tenant. If you know of any repairs that should be carried out, you need to contact them straight away. It is always best to do this in writing so that it can act as evidence later on if it is necessary. For example, you can report problems by email, letter or text message.

If the damage has occurred as a result of your own actions, the landlord will not be responsible for carrying out the repair. Instead, you will have to get it fixed and pay for the bill. In some cases, the bill can be covered by the tenancy deposit.

Reasonable Time and Accessing the Property

The law does not indicate a time that landlords must repair appliances or installations. Instead, tenants should give them a reasonable amount of time. If the repair is non-essential, this is not going to be a priority. While it may be inconvenient for a toaster or television to be broken, you could have to wait a few weeks. If the repair is to do with electrics or gas, this should be dealt with as soon as possible for the safety of tenants.

But a landlord or repairman cannot just turn up and enter the rented property. They must gain permission from the tenant. The tenant is allowed to restrict entry if it is not convenient for them. The landlord and tenant must work together to find a good time for repairs to be carried out. The tenant has a right to privacy and for quiet enjoyment of the property. If the damage meant that the property was unavailable for a certain period of time, it may be possible for tenants to receive a reduction in rent until the repairs have been carried out.