Tenants have a right to live in a property that’s not only safe but is in a good state of repair and well maintained.  Therefore, Landlords are obligated to keep a property in a reasonable state and must carry out repairs and maintenance, where required, to ensure that it is up to standard.  Equally, tenants are expected to act in a 'tenant-like manner' and not cause damage to the property besides anything that would class as 'fair wear and tear'.

A Landlord's responsibilities

The Landlord's primary responsibility is to provide a safe home.

However, from 20 March 2019, private Landlords had new responsibilities.  A new law came into force to make sure that rented houses and flats are ‘fit for human habitation’, which means that they are safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm. This applies to any tenancy signed since 20 March 2019 and applies to all tenancies regardless of when they began from 20 March 2020.

A home is unfit for habitation if:

  • There is a risk to the tenant's health
  • The tenant is at risk of injury
  • A tenant can't enjoy full use of the home. For example, a bedroom is uninhabitable, or the stairs are dangerous

The new rules really reinforce what Landlords already know. They must make sure that the property and appliances are in good condition and safe to use. Specifically, this means the Landlord must make repairs to:the boiler and gas pipes. The Landlord is also legally bound to make annual gas safety checks. Only approved Gas Safe engineers can do these checks.

  • All pipework, appliances and flues must be safe and in good condition
  • Electrical wiring. All wiring and sockets must be in good condition and safe to use
  • Heating systems and hot water. The Landlord must ensure the tenant always has access to water
  • Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms if fitted
  • The chimney must be maintained in good working order
  • The toilet, bath and sinks including taps
  • Pipes and drains
  • Bannisters and stairs
  • Appliances including white goods, if supplied by the Landlord
  • The exterior structure including walls, roof, windows, etc

If rented houses and flats are not ‘fit for human habitation’, tenants can take their Landlords to Court. The Court can make the Landlord carry out repairs or put right health and safety problems. The Court can also make the Landlord pay compensation to the tenant.

A Tenant's responsibilities

If a tenant provides their own appliances or white goods, it's their responsibility to maintain and repair them. This also applies to furniture. The tenant is also responsible for any damage caused either by themselves, members of their family or visitors to the property.

The tenant must also look after the property and follow rules regarding reporting repairs. This includes:

  • Keeping the property clean
  • Performing minor maintenance tasks such as replacing light bulbs etc
  • Report repairs and maintenance issues to the Landlord in a timely manner
  • Allow reasonable access to the property to allow the Landlord to carry out repairs and maintenance tasks

It's important that tenants continue to pay rent whilst waiting for repairs to be done. Withholding rent could jeopardise a tenant's right to remain in the accommodation.

Coronavirus has not changed the rules, so tenants should work with their Landlord or Letting Agent to make sure that any urgent repairs happen safely.