What are a landlord's obligations for repairs and how they should be detailed in the agreement?
Landlord's Repair Obligations Under UK Law
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
Structural and Exterior Maintenance: You are required to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the property. This includes walls, roofs, foundations, drains, gutters, and external pipes.
Utilities Installations: The installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation (basins, sinks, baths, toilets), space heating, and heating water must be kept in repair and proper working order. This covers water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, boilers, radiators, and other heating installations.
Common Areas: If your property has shared common areas, these too fall under your repair obligations.
Applicability of Section 11
It applies to most residential tenancies but excludes crown tenancies, fixed-term tenancies of seven years or more, licence agreements, and lodger arrangements.
Additional Repairing Obligations in the Tenancy Agreement
Appliance Repairs: If your contract states you will repair appliances, this adds to your repair obligations. This could include ovens, washing machines, etc., provided they are included in the rental agreement.
Express Terms: You might add additional terms in the tenancy agreement for repairs not covered by Section 11.
When Repairs Are Required
You are generally not required to repair until you have been notified of the problem by the tenant, except for common areas, which you must maintain irrespective of notification.
Fitness for Human Habitation: Beyond repair issues, the property must be habitable. Health risks like mould, even if not strictly repair-related, must be addressed.
Detailing Repairs in the Tenancy Agreement
Clarity and Compliance
Explicit Terms: The tenancy agreement should explicitly state your repair responsibilities as outlined in Section 11 and any additional responsibilities you have agreed to.
Repair and Maintenance Procedures: Clearly outline how tenants should report repair issues, including emergency contact information and expected response times.
Access for Repairs: Include terms regarding your right to access the property for inspections and repairs, noting the requirement to provide reasonable notice to the tenant.
Legal Limitations and Tenant Responsibilities
Exclusions from Section 11: Note that you are not responsible for damage caused by tenant negligence, nor for rebuilding in cases of fire, flood, or similar incidents.
Tenant Responsibilities: While not part of your repair obligations, it's helpful to define what constitutes tenant negligence or misuse, as this impacts their responsibilities.
Timeliness and Quality of Repairs
Repairs should be conducted within a reasonable timeframe after notification.
The standard of repair depends on the property's age, character, and the locality.
Legal Recourse for Tenants
Tenants have the right to seek legal or local authority intervention if repairs are not addressed.
Include a clause about dispute resolution and the tenant's right to report unaddressed repairs.
Including Repair Obligations in the Tenancy Agreement
Specificity: Be specific about what is covered under your repair obligations.
Updates: Keep your tenancy agreement updated with any changes in the law or property specifics.
Transparency and Fairness: Ensure all terms are fair and transparent, adhering to the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
Understanding and clearly detailing your repair obligations in the tenancy agreement is essential for legal compliance and fostering a positive relationship with your tenants. It helps in setting clear expectations and provides a reference point should any disputes arise. Regular updates to the agreement and staying informed about legal changes are key to being a responsible and successful landlord.