Landlords have a legal obligation to keep their rented property in good condition, ensuring that all gas or electrical systems meet specified safety standards.
If you’re based in Scotland or Northern Ireland, then different rules apply.
As a landlord, you have a legal right to enter your property for inspection purposes or to carry out repairs. However, you must give your tenants at least 24 hours’ notice, although immediate access may be possible in emergencies. Your tenants have the right to stay in the property during the repairs.
Typically you are responsible for repairs to:
- the structure of the property
- basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings
- heating and hot water systems
- anything you damage while attempting repairs
In the event of significant damage caused by a fire, flood, or similar incident, you are not obligated to rebuild or renovate the property. If you choose to do so, you cannot charge your tenants for the repairs.
If you own a block of flats, it is usually your responsibility to repair common areas such as staircases. Councils can ask landlords to fix problems in common areas, or to repair a tenant’s flat that’s been damaged by another tenant.
If the property is temporarily unfit to live in
During major repairs, you can request that tenants temporarily vacate the property. Before this happens, you should agree in writing:
- the expected duration of the works
- the tenants’ right to return
- details of any alternative accommodation
You cannot repossess the property solely for repair purposes. However, if you plan extensive renovations or property redevelopment, you can apply to the courts for an order requiring your tenants to vacate. The courts are more likely to grant this if you provide alternative accommodation.
Repairs and charging rent
If the repairs cause significant disruption, your tenants may be able to claim a reduction on their rent known as a ‘rent abatement’. The extent of the reduction depends on how much of the property is unusable.
Being a landlord can present challenges, and it’s important to get all the advice you can. Hiring a specialist property accountant is another step to make your life that little bit easier, so get in touch with the team if you’d like to have a chat.