Landlord Law

4.3.4 Repairs and maintenance

4. Property management
4.3 Tenancy management
4.3.4 Repairs and maintenance
You must take all reasonable measures to provide housing that is safe and without risks to health.

The duties of the parties should be stated in the tenancy agreement, as set out in relevant legislation.

You should be aware of repairing obligations imposed by statute and common law.

You must ensure a safe and healthy environment for the tenants and act upon demands for improvements by the local housing authority under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

You must be prudent in the selection of persons who are competent to perform repairs and maintenance on the property. You should take reasonable steps to ensure such contractors have:
• public liability insurance
• professional indemnity insurance, if appropriate
• relevant trade qualifications where required; and
• appropriate health and safety risk assessments and adopt safe systems of work.

You must also pass over any relevant health and safety information you hold to any contractor/designer, including regarding asbestos.

Matters of disrepair should be dealt with promptly and in a timely manner appropriate to their urgency, placing a priority on reducing any risk to people.

You should ensure tenants know how to report repair and maintenance issues and have an established procedure for dealing with urgent requests for repair work, particularly for out-of-office hours.

Tenants must never be evicted for simply requesting repairs to the property.

Landlords must keep the structure and exterior of the property in repair. If an agent is charged with this duty then, in the event that the agent is unable to carry out this duty for any reason, the duty must return to the landlord or otherwise provisions must be put in place for keeping the structure and exterior of the property in repair.

You must repair and keep in proper working order the installations for space heating and water heating, together with the installations for the supply of gas, water, electricity and drainage.

You must take reasonable care to maintain and repair paths, driveways and car parking areas so that they are safe to use. You must maintain and repair gutters, downpipes, drains and gullies.

You should ensure that tenants are aware of their responsibility to act in a tenant-like manner and to carry out minor repairs, such as replacing bulbs or clearing pipes or drains they have blocked.

When arranging repair and maintenance work on a let property, you must be aware that tenants are
entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their homes and you must seek to minimise disruption.

You should consult tenants on the details and programme for carrying out such works, unless urgency or the tenancy agreement dictates otherwise. Works must be carried out to a reasonable minimum standard so that they do not need to be repeated within a short period of time relative to their nature and reasonable expectations.

You should maintain accurate and complete records of all maintenance and insurance of the property and hold records safely for the required period of time.

For agents only
You should ensure that sufficient funds from the landlord are available prior to instructing a contractor. The method of payment should be agreed between all parties prior to works commencing.

You should disclose any commission you might receive from the contractor at the time that estimates are provided to the landlord.

For landlords only
If you use a managing agent, you should ensure that the agent is provided with sufficient funds to be able to commission agreed repairs/maintenance once an estimate has been accepted.

The landlords repairing covenants are set out in s11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985.  Beach of these will entitle tenants to claim compensation in the civil courts (eg the County Court) and maybe an injunction ordering the landlord to carry out the works.

The Housing Health & Safety Rating System is set out in part 1 of the Housing Act 2004.  Unlike the landlords repairing coveannts, breach of the regulations and failure to comply with an improvement notice served under them, is a criminal offence where you will be prosecuted in the Magistrates Court.

An article on the Landlord Law blog here explains the difference between civil and criminal law.