Published 13 October 2020

DIY house webWith the clocks going back at the end of this month, and wet and stormy weather reminding us that summer is definitely over, it’s a good time of year to reflect on landlords’ – and indeed tenants’ – responsibilities when it comes to ensuring that rented homes are kept well-maintained and in good repair.

The onset of winter is often the time when problems with roofing and guttering make themselves known, and it’s also the season when most of us turn on our central heating and give our boilers their first proper test for months.

All this comes as a new survey from Shelter suggests that more than a third of those living in private rented accommodation are suffering ‘sub-standard’ conditions, with damp, electrical problems and infestations cited as the most common problems.

The same survey tells us that 51 per cent of private renters say their home has made them feel safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Good maintenance really needs to be a joint effort between landlords and tenants.  Responsible landlords will attend to repairs quickly, but they need to know there is a problem, and it is incumbent on tenants to report issues before they escalate. 

Not all tenants realise that they have maintenance responsibilities themselves, such as ensuring that guttering is clear of leaves and other obstructions, and – especially important as the mercury drops – that there is adequate ventilation (i.e. opening windows) to avoid condensation problems.

In turn, landlords must ensure that regular maintenance is carried out, and that when a problem occurs, that repairs are done in a timely manner.

Despite Shelter’s view, sadly there are landlords who don’t uphold their repairing obligations under the tenancy agreement, and equally there are tenants who don’t look after their rental property as well as they should and don’t report maintenance issues in a timely fashion. 

The best situation – for both parties – is when landlords and tenants work together.  Of course tenants have the right to live in a well-maintained home; landlords who provide this are likely to have happier tenants who stay longer and are more responsible when it comes to how they treat the rented home.  It’s a real win:win.

Tenants have a strong desire to live in a well maintained property and are increasingly more savvy in spotting properties that are not maintained.  We are regularly asked at viewings (by prospective tenants) whether the property is managed by us as an agent or by the landlord.

Skimping on repairs and maintenance might save money in the short term, but if it results in unhappy tenants who don’t pay the rent and ultimately leave (or have to be expensively evicted), not to mention longer-term deterioration of the property, then it’s definitely a false economy.

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