Maintenance and Repairs: Tenant Responsibilities
Your tenants are responsible for respective your property by keeping it in good condition. That means cleaning regularly and making sure there aren’t any big rips or mucky footprints on the sofa etc. As a landlord it’s your job to respond quickly to repair requests, such as a dripping tap or faulty heating system.
Typical Tenant Duties in a Property
- Keeping sinks unblocked
- Monitoring the build-up of limescale in the bathroom
- Changing lightbulbs and fuses when necessary
- Making sure the windows are clean and free of condensation
- Replacing batteries in the smoke detector and any carbon monoxide detectors
- Keeping the garden tidy
- Making sure it’s secure when empty
Defining Damage and ‘Wear and Tear’
Landlords can claim money from a tenant’s deposit if furniture and appliances are damaged. They can’t claim if, for instance, the sofa is looking a little worse for wear. That’s because you would expect a sofa to fade a little and the springs to contract after it’s been used for a year or more. In other words, the decline is natural and not wilful (or accidental) damage.
If your tenants have been in the property for a number of years then it’s not unreasonable of them to expect you to give it a lick of paint during their tenancy. You might also replace the sofa or other items of furniture if they’re worn. In fact, one of the government’s statutory deposit schemes lists the expected lifespan in a property as five years.
Wilful or Accidental Damage.
Caused through improper use damage can render an appliance unusable. Wilful damage, such as kicking a chair can do likewise. In both of these instances, money can be deducted from a tenant’s deposit to replace the item. And it’s not just damage caused by the tenants that can be deducted. Any friends and visitors of theirs who cause damage also counts, as does gnawing of skirting boards and the soiling of a carpet by a pet.
Tenants Must Report Repairs
As a landlord you don’t have a crystal ball and, as such, are reliant on tenants to tell you when a repair in the property is necessary. You might also pick this up on a routine inspection of the property, of course, but many repairs are best attended to right away, before the matter gets worse.
The Tenancy Agreement will usually state that it is the duty of a tenant to report repairs.
While tenants are asked to keep an eye on repairs, your duties as a landlord are to make sure the building is secure and in working order. This includes guttering and windows as well as the roof and walls.
You should also make sure the heating and water systems are all working. Electrical appliances have to be PAT-tested every five years and furnishings, such as sofas should be complaint with fire safety regulations.
Communication is Everything
The best way to ensure your property is well-maintained is to communicate regularly with your tenants. By that, we mean, don’t become a pest and insist on an inspection every month, or a weekly chat.
Do make yourself available to them though, whenever they need to discuss any matters related to their tenancy. That means giving them contact numbers as well as an email address (and any other way you communicate these days).
Respond to your tenant’s requests right away and they’ll respect you for that and see that you mean business in terms of sticking by the Tenancy Agreement and seeing their tenancy is as comfortable as possible. You should benefit, in turn, from having tenants who want to look after your property.
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