Who is responsible for repairs?

Your landlord is responsible for most repairs in your home. This applies to private, council and housing association landlords.

Does it matter what a tenancy agreement says about repair?

If your agreement says that you are responsible for something that isn't your landlord's legal responsibility, such as tidying the garden or cleaning the common stairway, then you probably have to keep to the agreement.

However, landlords can't get out of their legal responsibilities no matter what the agreement says. If the agreement says that you are responsible for repairing the heating, this won't be valid.

Your landlord still has their legal responsibilities even if you don't have a written agreement or if it doesn't say who is responsible for specific things.

Landlord's responsibilities for repairs

Landlords are always responsible for repairs to:

  • the structure and exterior of the building, such as the walls, roof, external doors and windows
  • sinks, baths, toilets and other sanitary fittings, including pipes and drains
  • heating and hot water
  • all gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
  • electrical wiring

Landlords are also responsible for putting right any damage to internal decorations that was caused by the disrepair or while repairs they are responsible for are carried out.

The landlord may be responsible for repairing or replacing faulty items or appliances in your home if they were provided to you at the start of your tenancy, for example fridges and washing machines. Check what your tenancy agreement says about this. 

Your landlord is probably not responsible for any appliances you bought yourself.

How to ask your landlord to carry out repairs

Tenant's responsibilities for repairs

As a tenant, you have to use your home in a responsible way.

This includes:

  • keeping it reasonably clean
  • not damaging the property, and ensuring that your guests don't either
  • carrying out minor maintenance, for example checking smoke alarm batteries
  • using the heating properly, for example not blocking flues or ventilation

You may have some extra responsibilities to carry out repairs and maintenance if your tenancy agreement says so. For example, you could be responsible for keeping the garden tidy or sharing in the cleaning of communal stairways and halls. Check what your tenancy agreement says.

Whatever the agreement says, your landlord is always responsible for major repairs and gas safety.

If you cause any damage to the property or the furniture, even if it's accidental, you will probably have to pay for repairs.

This is not the same as causing fair wear and tear to your home, which you should not have to pay for.

Find out more about what action to take if you have damage to your home.

Responsibility for damp and mould

Because it can be difficult to identify the cause of damp, it's not always easy to work out who is responsible for sorting out problems with damp.

Landlords are usually responsible for repairs if the damp was caused by:

  • leaking pipes
  • a structural defect such as leaking roof or cracked wall
  • a damp proof course that is no longer working

If your home suffers from condensation and mould growth, this could be due to drying clothes indoors or not using heating systems properly. If this is the case, your landlord is probably not responsible.

Some problems are a result of condensation caused by lack of ventilation, lack of insulation and inadequate heating. Ask your landlord if they can make changes to your home to improve the situation such as:

  • providing an extra heater
  • fitting ventilation
  • adding insulation

If these problems existed when you started your tenancy, you may not be able to persuade the landlord to fix them. Always check your tenancy agreement. It may say that your landlord has to fix these problems.

Damp could be due to the poor design of the building. In this case, the landlord doesn't have to fix the problem. However, you can ask the local council to carry out an inspection to check for health and safety hazards in your home. If the damp problem is serious enough, the council can order your landlord to carry out remedial works. 

Responsibility for communal areas and gardens

The landlord is responsible for repairs to hallways, stairs and lifts. If there are other flats in the building that your landlord doesn't own, responsibility for common areas is usually shared with other owners and landlords.

It may say in your tenancy agreement that it is your responsibility to take care of your garden or other outdoor area. This usually means you have to keep it tidy, for example by cutting grass and hedges. You should not make any changes to it without permission, for example digging a pond or building a shed.

Your landlord is usually responsible for repairs to garden paths, walls, fences, gates and outbuildings.

Responsibility for the garden may be shared with other tenants. If your tenancy agreement doesn't mention the garden, you are expected to at least keep it in the condition it was in when you moved in.

Responsibility for decorations

Tenants are usually responsible for minor repair jobs to the paint and wallpaper in their home. This could include cleaning or painting over a mark on a wall.

Fixing these minor repairs is the landlord's responsibility if the damage to the decorations was caused by disrepair or damp or are due to normal wear and tear. You should not have to redecorate before you leave unless your agreement says so or you have damaged the decoration.

Get the landlord's permission in writing first if you want to redecorate. You may not be able to decorate it exactly as you want, but may be allowed to make small changes. If you do decide to decorate, for example to repaint walls, the landlord may ask you to put them back to their original colour before you leave or take money from your deposit to pay for redecorating.

You are responsible for not damaging the property, but living in your home causes normal wear and tear. Landlords shouldn't keep your deposit or expect you to pay for things that have worn out from normal use.

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