In previous articles, we have discussed the responsibilities of the landlord and the repairing standard but what are the responsibilities of the tenant?
This is an issue that in my experience can cause problems if expectations are not clearly defined at the beginning of the tenancy. For example, I have seen tenants calling in to request a tradesman to come out to change multiple lightbulbs that require replacement and hoover bags that need replacement. I call this “Hotel Mentality” where a tenant’s expectations are that of room service.
Here are the main areas of responsibility:
The tenant must take good care of the property and not cause damage.
From experience, the garden can be an area of contention… if it is a shared or communal garden it is generally expected that the landlord will be in charge of organising the upkeep with the other parties. However, more often than not, with a private garden the tenant is responsible for cutting the grass. Lawnmowers and necessary equipment should be provided by the landlord and we suggest that the responsibility is clearly defined and agreed by the tenant and landlord to avoid any confusion.
Report repairs quickly
The landlord cannot make repairs if they are not aware they are needed. The onus is on the tenant to report issues as soon as possible as some problems can escalate and cost the landlord serious money further down the line if not dealt with quickly eg structural cracks and damp.
Reporting a repair to the landlord/agent
If the repair is urgent for example a blocked drain or water leak, the tenant is advised to report the repair in writing or phone the landlord/agent. They should ask what will be done and when. The tenant must allow access to the property for the work to be carried out.
Many grievances arise from a lack of communication and expectations. Tenants can sometimes feel that the repairs are not being done or are taking too long and landlords can sometimes feel that they are being asked to do work and improvements outside of their remit.
What is the difference between a repair or an improvement?
Tenants and landlords sometimes disagree on what a necessary repair is. If something in the property breaks and needs to be replaced this is classed as a repair and is the responsibility of the landlord. However, if a tenant asks for something new for their benefit for example, requesting a shower when there is not one already, this is an enhancement and would be at the discretion of the landlord and not enforceable.
If the tenant feels that necessary repairs are not being taken care of in a reasonable manner, they can do the following:
In a dispute, the tenant is advised to collect the following information:
99% of tenants use their common sense and refer to their lease or agent for clarification on their responsibilities however clear communication at the inception of the tenancy is always recommended.