Business

What repairs are you liable for as a tenant and how can you avoid them?

Tenant

Repairs liable if you’re a member of one of the 4.5 million households in the UK’s private rented sector, it’s likely that budgeting plays a big part in your life. You might be saving up for a house deposit, you may have some significant financial responsibilities to cater for or you may just be living month to month thanks to the current cost of living and wage imbalance.

Regardless, while you’re in the renting cycle, managing your money is always going to be especially important, as is avoiding any unnecessary costs. Within your tenancy, that means looking after your property so you don’t incur any extra fees for damages during or at the end of your term.

The matter of damages for tenants is a contentious one. What are you liable for? What are the potential costs? When is it reasonable to push back? Let’s discuss all of the above.

Liability, reasonable requests and fair wear and tear

Let’s start with liability, meaning what you’re responsible for. Section 11 from The Landlord and Tenants Act of 1895 states that tenants should be:

“Making good any damage to the property caused by the behaviour or negligence of the tenant, members of his/her household or any other person lawfully visiting or living in the property.”

In simple terms, that means any damage caused by you, your fellow tenants or your guests during your tenancy will be your financial responsibility. This includes any damage caused by neglect – for example, mould damage to the bathroom because it wasn’t cleaned regularly enough.

To counterbalance that, there are two principles on your side as a tenant – reasonable requests and fair wear and tear. If we go back to Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenants Act, it also states that landlords are responsible for keeping the structure of the property “in repair” and the installations for the property (gas, electric, water, sanitation) in proper working order. This typically doesn’t include fixtures, fittings and appliances.

A reasonable request can be made to the landlord for repairs liable work that goes beyond your scope of knowledge and ability. Reasonable repair costs are covered in your rent payments, so you can request something to be fixed without having to worry about a charge.

Fair wear and tear is often cited at the end of your tenancy. Wear and tear defines any piece of equipment that has become unusable thanks to normal, everyday use. Your landlord is responsible for replacing anything that falls into this category. If, however, any fixture in the property has fallen into disrepair due to what is deemed to be “improper use”, then you’ll be on the hook for it.

Essentially, if you keep your property in good condition and avoid any damage, you’ll avoid any extra costs coming your way. Defining what is a reasonable request, fair wear and tear and improper use can sometimes become a bit of a grey area at crunch time, so it’s best to do everything you can do to be wary of the potential costs and what you can do to avoid any contention beforehand. Dan Dan The Carpet Man has Tampa technicians who have the expertise to clean your carpet gently and appropriately.

The repair costs you want to avoid as a tenant

Burst pipes

If you leave the property for a period of time during the winter, say at Christmas, and don’t leave the heating on, the pipes could freeze and burst. Because you didn’t leave the heating on, this can go down as neglect on your part, and it’s a very, very costly repairs liable.

Broken windows

It would be a remarkable situation where a window breaks due to wear and tear, and even more remarkable if your landlord believes you. Any smashed glass will be accredited to you.

Ruined or stained carpets

Cigarette burns, wine stains and other dirt that’s nigh on impossible to remove will be charged to you.

Damage caused by pets

Most properties won’t allow pets in the first place, so you absolutely shouldn’t have one in the property unless its permitted by your landlord. If they are, keep them away from the furniture as best you can.

Mould

As mentioned earlier, improper or irregular cleaning can lead to mould, which can potentially be highly damaging if allowed to spread. It’s hard to imagine mould damage being due to anything other than negligence on the tenant’s part, so make sure your property is properly ventilated, heated and cleaned throughout your term.

Broken furniture

This is one of the bigger fair wear and tear areas, as furniture, particularly if your landlord has installed cheap fixtures, can wear and break extremely quickly through no fault of your own. Obvious damage beyond the likes of worn fabrics, however, will likely be charged on your side.

Broken curtains

Another breakage that’s tough to explain as wear and tear, be careful with your curtain rail fitting when you’re drawing the curtains on a morning/evening.

Protecting yourself from incurring costs

There are a number of things you can do to avoid incurring any significant costs during your tenancy:

  • Take note of your inventory: when you move in you should be provided with a full inventory of the property as well as a record of the state of the property. If you aren’t, it’ll be tough for the landlord to claim any damages without evidence of the initial condition of the property. It’s worth taking your own pictures upon moving in, too, as you can cite them as evidence in any claims you feel are unjust.
  • Get insured: tenants insurance is an underutilised and potentially life-saving option for those who find themselves with damages to pay. There are two types of tenants insurance: tenancy liability (which covers accidental damages caused to the landlord’s property) and tenants contents insurance (which protects your personal possessions).
  • Report any damage immediately: it’s not a good look for your landlord to find out about any damage on the day you move out. Report damage as and when it happens, even if you caused it. Your landlord may be lenient if you’re open and honest about what’s happened.
  • Take on repairs liable yourself, but only if you know what you’re doing: if you can fix the problem fix it, but only if you’re confident you can do so properly. Otherwise, you could make the problem worse and the charge worse with it.
  • Treat the property as you would your own: don’t let things get out of hand with the property. Clean regularly, treat the fixtures and fitting with care and set standards for yourself that you would expect in a home you owned.

Renting is expensive enough without additional charges, and avoiding those charges is fairly easy as long as you keep on top of things. As a renter, make sure you understand your liabilities and those of the landlord, be clear on what the major repairs liable are and how to avoid them and take responsibility to protect yourself from worst case scenarios where you can. Do all of this, and you’ll be able to get through your tenancy without having to pay a penny more than you should.

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