Being a landlord comes with a raft of responsibilities, designed to ensure your property is safe and secure for tenants. Understanding the breadth of what you are responsible for is a challenge in itself, while carrying out repairs and organising replacements is another matter.

What are a landlord’s legal repair obligations?

Landlords are legally responsible for:

  • structural repairs
  • maintenance from general wear and tear on the property
  • fixing and maintaining gas appliances, central heating systems and the hot water supply, including an annual gas safety check
  • pipes and drains
  • electrical wiring and safety
  • sinks, toilets and baths
  • repairs to common and shared areas of flats
  • damp issues
  • ventilation, such as windows that open appropriately and extractor fans
  • fire safety, including smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms
  • meeting minimum energy standards

Tenant vs landlord

A landmark court case that took place almost 70 years ago clarified what responsibilities fall to a landlord and those that fall to a tenant. Letting agents and tribunals still refer to the ruling today when settling disputes, so it’s crucial landlords familiarise themselves with the outcome.

The court ruled that tenants are responsible for living in the property in a respectful manner and should take care of smaller everyday issues, such as changing a light bulb and unblocking the kitchen sink. The bigger jobs – together with the resulting rectification costs - fall to the landlord.

A landlord’s responsibilities in regards to repairs and maintenance were later enshrined in Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. As a guide, a landlord is responsible for servicing a central heating boiler, repairing it if it breaks down or replacing it if it is condemned. They should also replace rotten window frames, repair a leaky roof and refurbish bathrooms, for example.

The cost of being a landlord

Having to repair and maintain so many aspects of a buy-to-let can be a time-consuming and costly business. Not only do you have to organise and pay tradesmen to carry out the work, you also have to negotiate with the tenant over access and when the work can be carried out. There’s also an extra cost if you delegate the management of the let to an agent. While you pass over the hassle of organising repairs, you gain another expense in the shape of a property manager.

Duty of care

Of course, all of these responsibilities are put in place to protect tenants and ensure your let is lawful. If you, as a landlord, fail in your duty of care concerning your tenant and do not maintain your property properly, you could face fines or even court action, on top of the cost of repairs.

Tightening rules

The Government is tightening the regulations that landlords need to comply with. Already in 2022, it has announced a formal consultation on introducing a legally-binding Decent Homes Standard in the private rented sector. It is thought there will be a new raft of minimum living standards that all private landlords will need to meet by law. These could concern energy efficiency and a property’s thermal performance as much as the home’s cosmetic condition and a modern standard of conveniences.

For problem properties - especially those that are older or in a poor state of repair - it can sometimes be better to sell up before they become money pits. The alternative may not be palatable, especially if you find yourself ploughing more and more money into a buy-to-let to keep it safe and legally compliant.

Sell up to avoid costs

If you want to sell your buy-to-let but are worried who would take it on in its current condition, don’t be. LandlordBuyer is a cash buyer of dilapidated, unmodernised and poorly maintained properties, whether they are vacant or tenanted. Sell to us and free yourself from the burden of any repair and maintenance work. In fact, we are most comfortable buying a property that’s in need of full renovation, so don’t feel ashamed about the condition of your buy-to-let.

Get in touch for an instant cash offer and to talk through the process with our team.

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