Health, Safety and Repairs of Rented Flats
Leaseholder landlords are obliged by law to keep their flats gas safe, electrically safe and fire safe both before and during a tenancy. They are responsible for all repairs required inside the flat such as plumbing leaks but not those of the exterior as these ‘common areas’ come under the remit of the freeholder.
Repairs Procedure for Tenants
All tenants should be given a procedure to follow when repairs are required and whether the landlord or the letting chooses to be informed verbally or in writing, a record should be kept of all problems reported. Tenants should do the same. Alternatively repair forms can be issued which can be filled in and then passed over for action. If no agent is used there should be an emergency procedure in place such as the issuing of a list of contractors names and numbers. Tenants should never be left with no-one to contact.
Landlords should deal with all repair requests promptly, with the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) outlining the recommended time scales for landlords to respond, depending on the problem:
- Emergency response – gas and water leaks, serious electrical faults;
- 24 Hour response – heating and water systems and other non life threatening electrical problems eg broken windows if not caused by tenant negligence;
- 72 Hour response – kitchen appliances and other items that affect the daily life of a tenant;
- Less urgent responses – broken lawn mowers, a fallen fence panel or a dripping tap.
Note: The landlord can include a sum to cover the cost of repairs in the rent but cannot pass the costs to tenants in the form of a separate service charge.
Accessing Tenanted Flats
Leaseholder landlords also need to be aware of the legislation surrounding the accessing of tenanted flats to carry out repairs, with s11 (ss6) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 reading: ‘in a lease in which the lessor’s repairing covenant is implied there is also implied a covenant by the lessee that the lessor, or any person authorised by him in writing, may at reasonable times of the day and on giving 24 hours’ notice in writing to the occupier, enter the premises comprised in the lease for viewing their condition and state of repair’.
In short, properties must be in a safe condition before tenants move in and carrying out an inventory should be considered an essential tool in ensuring that they are.
Landlords wishing to carry out repairs do not have the right to turn up unannounced to check on a property or a tenant. Instead a mutually convenient date and time must be arranged which must be at a reasonable time and after giving the tenant not less than 24 hours notice in writing. More notice can be given if the works are to be prolonged or disruptive and in such cases tenants should be given details of the works to be carried out and a rough idea of a finishing time or completion date
Where a tenant has given permission, but has advised they will not be at the property themselves, it is recommended that landlords/agents are best accompanied by a witness.