Landlords’ Responsibilities for Repair and Maintenance:
A landlords repairing obligation is set out in the tenancy agreement, common law and statute, all of which set out the landlords responsibilities. Even if the tenancy agreement may not specify repair duties, or places them on the tenant, the law means that these duties still exist for the landlord.
Any attempts to pass on responsibilities in the tenancy agreement may result in the relevant term being found void under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. Examples might include a clause requiring the tenant to be responsible for repairing rotten window frames or for servicing gas appliances (as this is the landlord’s statutory responsibility).
The main terms implied by common law are;
- Tenants right to quiet enjoyment of the property without intrusion or disturbance by the landlord
- The tenant must use the property in a tenant-like manner, ie. responsibly
- The tenant has the responsibility to ensure the property is not damaged deliberately and is kept clean and free from rubbish during the course of the tenancy
- The tenant should leave the property in the same condition as when they took possession, fair wear and tear excepted
- The tenant must not use the rent to pay for repairs, except in very limited circumstances
Landlord and Tenant Act 1985: (LTA85): Section 11 implies a term into tenancy agreements that the landlord shall keep in repair:
- the structure and exterior of the dwelling
- the installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation
- the installations for the supply of space heating and water heating and
- the communal areas and installations associated with the dwelling (section 11 as amended by section 116 of the Housing Act 1988), where these are controlled by the landlord
The Act also provides that the standard of repair necessary will vary depending on the ‘age, character, and prospective life of the property and its location’.
Access to Property: LTA85 Section 11 also implies that landlords with section 11 repairing responsibilities (or people authorised by them) have the right to reasonable access the property for the purpose of viewing its condition and state of repair. Access can only be at reasonable times of the day and after giving the tenant not less than 24 hours’ notice in writing. If the tenant refuses to allow the landlord access to carry out the repairs, the tenant will not be in a position to complain about the property or to claim for damages for disrepair or for personal injury caused by the disrepair. However the tenant is legally allowed to refuse and a landlord must seek a Court order to overcome this.
The tenant’s failure to allow the landlord access to do the works results in further deterioration or damage to the property, the tenant may be liable to the landlord (entitling the landlord, for example, to deduct the additional costs incurred from the damage deposit). If the particular appointment time is inconvenient, the tenant will be expected to consent to an appointment at another time. If the tenant refuses to allow the landlord access at all then as a landlord you should seek legal advice to clarify the best way forward as in fact the tenant will be in breach of their tenancy agreement.
Generally, landlords should be wary about entering the property when the tenant is not there. Where a tenant has given permission, but has advised they will not be at the property themselves, it is recommended that landlords/agents are best accompanied by a witness and that the permission is in writing.
Defective Premises Act 1972: Section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 places a duty of care on the landlord in relation to any person who might be affected by a defect, ‘to take such care as is reasonable in all the circumstances to see that they are reasonably safe from personal injury or from damage to their property caused by a relevant defect’.
In this case the premises include the whole of the letting - i.e. including gardens, patios, walls, etc - and can be applied to the communal areas of estates or multi-occupancy buildings, including lifts, rubbish chutes, stairs and corridors. Section 4 provides tenants or other affected persons with the right to seek compensation for personal injury or damage to property.
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System: The Housing Act 2004 places a statutory duty on local authorities to identify hazards and to assess tenants’ risks to health and safety. Local authorities are required to use a system called the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to identify and assess risks. It is useful for landlords to be able to identify and risk-assess health and safety hazards at their properties and take remedial action where necessary. You can find more information on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) page.
Gas Safety: Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998: The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 make it mandatory that gas appliances are maintained in a safe condition at all times. Landlords are required by the regulations to ensure that all gas appliances are adequately maintained and that an annual safety check is carried out by a registered gas engineer. For further information visit www.gassaferegister.co.uk.
It is very important that the gas regulations are complied with and all necessary repairs carried out as soon as possible. Defective gas appliances are very dangerous and some tenants have died as a result. Culpable landlords could be subject to legal action. A landlord must:
- Have gas appliances provided by them checked for safety by a registered gas installer within 12 months of their installation and then ensure further checks at least once every 12 months after that
- Ensure a gas safety check has been carried out on each appliance and flue every 12 months, except where the appliance was installed less than 12 months ago. Gas pipe work should also be inspected to ensure it is not leaking. The registered gas installer must take action to leave the appliance safe, if it fails a safety check. This could be remedial action, disconnection and/or a warning notice
- Give a copy of the gas safety record to any new tenant when they move in or to an existing tenant(s) within 28 days of the check
- Keep a record of the gas safety check made for each appliance for two years
- Ensure that gas appliances, fittings, and flues are maintained in a safe condition
Danger signs to look for are include; stains, soot or discolouring around a gas appliance indicating that the flue or chimney is blocked, in which case carbon monoxide can build up in the room; a yellow or orange flame on a gas fire or water heater. The most effective indication of a combustion problem would be the activation of a properly installed carbon monoxide detector.
Electrical Safety and Electrical Goods: Landlords should have a clear understanding of their responsibilities in relation to electrical installations and appliances and the duties and responsibilities placed on a landlord by the following regulations:
- Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
- Consumer Protection Act 1987
- Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
- Building Regulations 2000
Legislation places obligations on landlords to ensure that all electrical appliances supplied by the landlord are safe at the date of supply. Landlords need to ensure that the electrical installation and all electrical appliances are ‘safe’ with little risk of injury or death to humans, or risk of damage to property. One way of showing this is to have the installation system tested by a certified installer.
Landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupancy will be required to provide an up to date electrical safety certificate as part of their licence application. It is likely that a requirement to regular electrical safety testing will become part of the new fitness for human habitation requirements in the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, when this is enacted.
For further guidance about electrical safety and the competency of electricians and installers to carry out new work or undertake the formal periodic inspection and test of an existing installation, refer to the information provided on the Electrical Safety Council’s website: www.esc.org.uk.
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988: Since 1 January 1997 persons who hire out furniture in the course of a business (and this includes furniture provided with rented accommodation) are required to comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 which set safety standards for fire and flame-retarding requirements for upholstered furniture. The regulations relate to:
- furniture meeting a cigarette resistance test
- cover fabric, whether for use in permanent or loose covers, meeting a match resistance test and
- filling materials for all furniture meeting ignitability tests.
Landlord responsibilities for Registration and Licencing
All landlords in Wales are now required to register with Rent Smart Wales and if they are managing landlords to obtain a licence, or to nominate an agent with a licence. For more information on this please go to our Rent Smart Wales page.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO): Special requirements apply to types of properties known as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) which place special responsibilities on landlords and agents. Certain HMO’s will need to be licenced. To view detailed guidance on the licensing requirements visit the Houses in Multiple Occupation page.
Duties on the Manager of an HMO: The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Wales) Regulations 2006 and 2007 place specific duties on the manager of an HMO. Failure to comply with the regulations is a criminal offence, leading to fines of up to £5,000 on conviction. Details concerning the Management regulations including specific obligations on the occupiers can be found on the Management Responsibilities page.
Energy Performance Certificates
A Landlord must provide an EPC to prospective tenants. The EPC is valid for ten years. If there have been significant changes to a property which would have an impact on the EPC the landlord may choose to commission a new one, but they are not obliged to do so.
In domestic private rent properties the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards now apply to all tenancies. The EPC must show a minimum value of an E rating. If the property is an F or G then the landlord is not allowed to rent the property out, unless it is registered as an exemption. There are substantial fines for landlords if the Energy Efficiency regulations are not met.
More information can be found on the Government website.