Who is responsible for repairs?

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

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 examples ridges and washing machines. Check what your tenancy agreement says about this. 

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

Find out how to ask your landlord to make repairs to your home.

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 will 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.

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

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 keeping the garden tidy or sharing in the cleaning of communal stairways and halls – check what your tenancy agreement says. But, 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 – for more information, see the page on damage to your home.

Responsibility for damp and mould

Mould in the corner of a living room

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

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. (But if there is no damp proof course, your landlord is not liable.)

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.

However, 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 do repairs. 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. 

For more information on how to deal with condensation and damp, see the NHBC Guide to Condensation

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 will probably be shared with other owners and landlords.

If you have a garden or other outdoor area, it may say in your tenancy agreement that it is your responsibility to take care of it. This will usually mean you have to keep it tidy, for example by cutting grass and hedges, and not making any changes to it without permission, for example digging a pond or building a shed. Your landlord will usually be 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, it will be the landlord's responsibility.

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.

If damage to the decorations in your home was caused by disrepair or damp or are due to normal wear and tear, fixing these will be the landlord's responsibility. You should not have to redecorate before you leave unless your agreement says so or you have damaged the decoration.

If you want to redecorate, get the landlord's agreement in writing first. 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 will cause normal wear and tear. Landlords shouldn't keep your deposit, or expect you to pay for things that have worn out from normal use. For more information, see the page on damage to your rented home.

Last updated: 1 January 2014