Landlords and tenants: who’s responsible for home repairs

All relationships can have their ups and downs and business relationships between landlords and tenants are no exception. A recent survey* revealed some surprising statistics around responsibility in the home, and confusion as to who should be in charge of repairs. Below we reveal who’s responsible for what in the home, to help get home repairs sorted faster.

welcoming hallway

What’s changed in the rental market?

The rental market has been changing over recent years. One reason is the decline in people buying property over renting. When asked how much longer they plan to carry on renting, nearly one-fifth (18%) of tenants said they always intend to rent.

Landlords are no longer just renting out properties the traditional way, they’ve been expanding into renting out Airbnb properties. There also appears to be a rise of landlords wanting to increase their buy-to-let property portfolio. An impressive 38% of landlords are looking to buy new properties to rent out in the future. This means a rise in landlords needing reliable tradespeople to fix a larger number of rented properties.

What’s causing confusion?

Nearly 1 in 10 of the 1000 tenants surveyed thought the landlord should change their broken lightbulbs. But when it came to students, 14% thought their landlord should change a lightbulb.
There seems to be a generational divide when it comes to taking responsibility in the home. Only three-quarters of students said it was their responsibility to keep their rented property clean. In comparison, 91% of retired tenants felt it was their responsibility.

cleaning the house

59% of landlords said fixing broken white goods was their responsibility, but a quarter said it was the tenants. Chris Horne, portfolio landlord and founder of Property Hawk, had some insights: “Generally, the rule of thumb is that if the items were there when the tenant moved in then it’s the landlord’s responsibility; otherwise the responsibility lies with the tenant. I think that the fact that over 90% of tenants and landlords understand that with a lightbulb it’s quicker and easier to be dealt with in-house by the tenant is reassuring and a feather in the cap for common sense!”

Improving your home

Whether it’s your first, or fifteenth rental property, you always want to put your own stamp on a house to make it feel homely. If you’re renting, check with your landlord to find out what you can and can’t do with the property. Some landlords might be more lenient when it comes to decorating.

repapering a wall

If you’re the landlord, consider having one tradesperson you’re loyal to and stick with them. Finding the right tradesperson is essential, they should be highly rated and quote a reasonable price for what needs doing.

If they’re doing the job well, and not letting you down with prices or timing, then this takes away the stress of looking for someone new every time something needs fixing. See our guide on how to get the best from your tradesperson.

Communication is key

To improve a tenant-landlord relationship, communication is crucial. 32% of tenants listed landlords that are slow to deal with issues as one of their top three bugbears. This surpassed other top bugbears such as damp/mould, poor heating and landlords showing up unannounced. For the tenant, having issues fixed quickly and properly is a big deal.

More than 1 in 10 tenants have had to wait a month or longer for issues to be dealt with in their current rental property. You can take away the stress of waiting to get problems fixed, by finding someone who’s available when you want the work done, who works in your area.

Chris Horne had some further advice for landlords, to help get home repairs done:, “keep it informal and cordial. Remember that your tenants are your customers and in that respect treat them as you would any other valued customers or clients.Keep them up to speed with what is happening. With social media, there are more ways than ever to keep in touch with your tenants from email to WhatsApp, texts and even the traditional phone call.”

See our homeowner checklist for more tips on choosing a tradesperson for home repairs.

*Findings taken from NatWest’s Landlords and Tenants Survey, conducted in late 2017. OnePoll surveyed 1,000 landlords and 1,000 tenants from the UK.

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