How to keep property in tiptop condition
THERE is no bigger mistake a landlord can make than neglecting to maintain and keep a rented property in tiptop condition. As landlord, you have a responsibility to maintain certain standards within the property. The tenancy agreement should set out who is responsible for what repairs, with the exception of electrical and gas appliances and furniture safety.
If the tenancy started on or after the 1st of April 2007 and the statement of tenancy terms or tenancy agreement is not clear as to who is responsible for repairs, then the law imposes ‘ default terms’ which define the landlord’s repairing responsibilities as follows: The structure and exterior of the property, including exterior paintwork, drains, gutters and external pipes. The interior of the property other than matters covered under tenant responsibilities. Any installations for the supply and use of water, gas, electricity, and sanitation (including baths, sinks, wash-hand basins and toilets). Any appliances provided by the landlord under the tenancy for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity. Any installations for space heating and water heating. Any fixtures, fittings and furniture provided by the landlord under the terms of the tenancy. Keeping in good repair any common areas or areas required for access. Keeping any area required for access adequately lit and safe to use. You will usually be responsible for outside decoration to the property and for decoration inside. However, you may agree with your tenant that they can undertake internal decoration work. For the avoidance of doubt, these arrangements should be made clear in the tenancy agreement.
Access for repairs
The landlord is not entitled to enter the property either forcibly or without the tenant’s permission. The obligation is on the tenant to allow the landlord to enter.
The tenant must allow the landlord to enter the property to carry out repairs. The landlord must give the tenant reasonable notice (at least 48 hours written notice) of his wish to enter the property. Repairs should be carried out at a reasonable time and the tenant must also be given reasonable notice, preferably in writing, of your intention to enter the property to carry out repairs.
In the case of emergency repairs the landlord will be entitled to immediate access. If the tenant refuses to allow the landlord to enter then access can only be gained with a court order.
Remember, if you enter the property more than necessary without giving notice this may be considered to be harassment of the tenant. The tenant is within his rights to seek legal redress.
In some cases, you may have to ask the tenant to move out of the property in order to carry out repair work. You should offer the tenant alternative accommodation. If the tenant is unwilling to move you can apply to the court to repossess the property.
Tenants should be given emergency contact numbers to report any essential repairs. Advice should be given to your tenants on how to turn off water, gas, electric services - for example, how to find meters and stopcocks.
The tenant’s responsibilities
Responsibilities for repairs should be set out in the tenancy agreement. The tenants should not be responsible for general wear and tear. Where the tenancy started on or after the 1st of April 2007 and the statement of tenancy terms or tenancy agreement is not clear as to who is responsible for repairs, the law imposes ‘default terms’ for tenant responsibilities as follows: Generally taking proper care of the property as a good tenant. Making good any damage to the property caused by the behaviour or negligence of the tenant, members of his family household or any other person lawfully visiting or living in the property. Keeping the interior of the property in reasonable decorative order. Not carrying out alterations to the property without the landlord’s permission.
You must ensure that you have adequate insurance cover for the building. The tenant is responsible for taking out insurance for their own possessions.
Maintenance and upgrades have to be ongoing and regular if good tenants are to be kept content and deterred from moving on once their leases expire.