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A tenant’s rights may vary in accordance with the type of tenancy agreement in existence - private or social housing, for example. The main focus of this article will be in relation to the most common type of tenancy, an assured shorthold tenancy, when renting from a private landlord or letting agent.
Most obligations and duties relevant to repairs should be included in the tenancy agreement. It is best practice for a written tenancy agreement to be provided on or before the commencement of the tenancy to ensure there is a clear record of what has been agreed. It is imperative, when determining the responsibilities of a landlord and a tenant, to refer to the tenancy agreement in the first instance.
The main responsibilities of a tenant are to pay the agreed rental payment in accordance with the tenancy agreement whilst also taking care to look after the property. This will include general upkeep and may include carrying out minor repairs, such as changing a light bulb. Tenants are then required to allow access for the landlord to complete any other repair work upon reasonable notice.
The tenancy agreement should set out the main responsibilities of the landlord but section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 also implies certain legal obligations. Generally, this legislation obligates the landlord to repair and maintain the structure and exterior of the property, as well as the plumbing, wiring and central heating. Additionally, a landlord is responsible for repairing gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation, electrical wiring and any damage caused during their repairs. The costs of these will be the responsibility of the landlord rather than the tenant.
Tenants have the right to enjoy quiet possession of their rented property, without unreasonable disturbance from the landlord. In the event that repair work is required in the property, the landlord must gain permission from the tenant to access the property, providing reasonable notice, usually 24 hours. There are certain exceptions to this, such as in emergency circumstances. Any unreasonable entry or interference by the landlord without permission or prior notice could be deemed as harassment.
Similarly, in Northern Ireland, a tenant can expect a private rented property to meet certain standards and for a landlord to carry out any necessary repair work within a reasonable amount of time. A landlord is responsible for repairs to the structure and exterior of the property, heating and hot water systems and the safety of gas and electrical appliances. Furthermore, tenants have a legal right to peaceful enjoyment of the property.
In Scotland, landlords are required to ensure rented properties meet the Repairing Standard, which is the basic level of repair that all private rental properties must meet.
If the property does not meet this standard, and the landlord refuses to bring it up to standard this can be reported to the Housing and Property Chamber by the tenant or Local Authority. In such cases, the Tribunal will ascertain whether the landlord has adhered to their duties, and enforcement powers can be applied.
In Ireland, landlords have a duty to ensure rented homes meet the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2017. The Regulations require the landlord to ensure the property is in a sound state, both inside and out. The landlord must maintain that the structure and exterior is in a good state of repair and that electricity or gas supplies are safe. Furthermore, a landlord is required to ensure every room has adequate ventilation and both natural and artificial lighting.
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