Renting out properties brings a whole heap of responsibilities and legislations that landlords should be aware of. Failure to ensure the legislation is adhered to and plumbing responsibilities towards tenants fulfilled can hit you, as the landlord, both financially and in terms of reputation. More importantly, failure to ensure that your properties are safe to live in could have dangerous or even fatal consequences.
What are your responsibilities?
If you are a landlord, there are certain responsibilities that you have towards your tenants and the property(s) you own. Some of these responsibilities will may well be set out in a written contact, while other agreements may have been reached verbally, all of which makes the contract between tenant and landlord a little bit grey in places.
One piece of legislation that makes the landlord’s responsibilities a bit clearer is Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, and it is here we can decipher just what plumbing and pipe issues the landlord should be concerned with.
Basic plumbing repairs
Under this act, the landlord is obliged to carry out basic plumbing repairs and maintenance, even if these haven’t been written into a contract or even agreed verbally. When it comes to plumbing requirements and responsibilities, the legislation is clear. When it comes to the property’s exterior, Section 11 says that it is the landlord’s responsibility to repair and maintain drains, guttering and external pipes.
Moving indoors, the landlord is responsible for basins, sinks, baths, toilets, pipework,as well as the heating systems in place. So, for any repairs to the boiler, problems with the radiators or blocked pipes, then the tenant is perfectly within their rights to demand you fix the problem.
One additional responsibility that applies to any tenancy that began after 1989, is that repair responsibilities extend to common parts of shared buildings, such as entrance halls and stairs.
Then there are the legal responsibilities that exist outside the tenancy agreement. These include things such as negligence that results in injury or damage. This might be a situation in which a tenant reported a fault, but as the landlord, you took no action and an injury or damage to property occurred. This is extended to situations in which the repair work was carried out, but not to a sufficiently high standard.
Private nuisance is another area that landlords must be aware of. This can occur when something in another part of a property causes problems in a tenant’s home. For instance, if you failed to repair pipes in the roof space of a block of flats and a water leak caused damage in the flats below. This could lead to action being taken by the tenant.
Duty of care
As a landlord you are also subject to legislation under the Defective Premises Act 1972. This is the understanding that you have duties of care towards your tenants, their families and any visitors. While the act places the onus on the tenant to tell you about repairs that are needed, it also has a clause that says action can be taken against a landlord if he or she “knows or ought to have known about the problem.”
Finally, as the landlord, you are responsible for the safety of any gas fittings or appliances supplied with the accommodation, and you must arrange and pay for annual safety checks and any necessary work. You must get the checks carried out by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. You are also obliged to keep a record of all inspections dates, identified defects and any action taken.