How Do I Deal With a Tenant Repair Request?Written By PropertyLoop February 12, 2021
Dealing with repair requests from tenants comes hand in hand with being a landlord. Naturally, all owners will want to ensure their rental opportunity is kept in pristine condition throughout each tenancy, or why take a security deposit, but what are a landlord’s responsibilities towards repairing their property?
What Repairs Is a Landlord Responsible For?
It is essential for landlords to note that they are unable to deviate from their legal responsibility to repair and maintain the rental property through a bespoke clause within the tenancy agreement. Put simply landlords are liable to ensure that the exterior structure of the rental property, comprising the roof, walls and doors are well maintained. Further to this, owners are also responsible for any pipes, wiring, heating systems, fires and the applicable amenities such as baths, toilets, and sinks.
However, this is not to dismiss the responsibility of the tenant. The occupants of the rental property have an obligation to report any damages or safety risks to the landlord as soon as they are noticed, through a repair request. If the occupants neglect to inform the owner of these issues the problem could be exacerbated, leading to a significant infringement on the wellbeing of the residents, and exponentially increasing the cost of repairs.
How Long Do Landlords Have to Fix Problems?
Unfortunately for tenants the law only dictates that landlords are afforded a “reasonable” amount of time to carry out necessary repairs. Naturally, this is rather vague but will depend on the issue at hand, with broken windows and faulty boilers being faster to address than a leaking roof.
With this being said, providing that the issue with the rental property presents a risk to the health of the occupants then the landlord must remedy the situation within two weeks. If the owner of the property neglects to take any steps to amend the risk, the residents could turn to the local authority leading to enforcement action being taken against the landlord, compelling them to carry out the repairs.
Can a Landlord Evict You for Requesting Repairs?
As mentioned, it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the rental opportunity is being provided to the tenants in a safe condition and must attend to any repairs that are brought to their attention by the occupants of the property. Landlords are prohibited from taking action to evict a tenant because they have asked for aspects of the rental to be repaired.
However, if a landlord was to serve their tenant with a section 21 notice of eviction this would be deemed as a retaliatory eviction. If a tenant faces retaliatory eviction after asking for repairs, they are able to turn to the local authority to request that the property is inspected. This would reveal any hazards within the rental property and ensure that they are addressed by the landlord providing they are issued with an improvement notice or in more severe circumstances, an emergency remedial notice. If either such notices are served to the landlord once an inspection has taken place, they will be prevented from issuing a section 21 notice., with any existing eviction notices being invalidated.
Is It Illegal to Make Tenants Pay For Repairs?
In the overwhelming majority of instances, the occupants of the rental; property will not be liable to pay for any repairs that are carried out. However, the caveat to this is that the damage was not caused by the tenants, either through neglect, irresponsible use or simply malicious intent.
Perhaps the most common way in what a tenant would be made to pay for damages would be through deductions from the amount of the security deposit that is being returned. With an amount equal to five weeks rent being taken at the start of the tenancy period, landlords are able to use this deposit to recoup any costs of repairs that does not constitute wear and tear once the fixed term comes to an end.
Any deductions that are made will be presented to the tenant by the landlord, offering them a chance to dispute these deductions, seeing the tenant consult the deposit protection scheme’s resolution service to decide if the proposed deductions should stand.
In some circumstances, even where the landlord would typically be responsible for paying for the repairs, if the deterioration of the property has been caused by the tenant, the landlord can impose these costs upon their residents. Again, this cannot constitute fair wear and tear, but if the tenant’s failed to report a problem to the owner which later caused flooding, damp, or mould, the payment would be settled to the occupants.
Is a Lack of Repairs Grounds for Withholding Rent?
Although it may be understandable when a tenant feels they should withhold rent in an effort to compel the landlord to carry out repairs, not paying rent is highly unadvisable. Regardless of the condition of the property when entering into a tenancy agreement the tenants just pay the agreed-upon amount of rent or be found in breach of the tenancy. Such a breach would then allow the landlord to pursue the eviction process against. With this being said providing that the occupants of the property provide the landlord with adequate warning and provide multiple chances for them to pay for the remedial work, the costs of the repairs can be deducted from future rental payments.
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