You must keep your property in good condition, and any gas or electrical systems must meet specified safety standards.
When you can enter the property
You have a legal right to enter your property to inspect it or carry out repairs. You must give your tenants at least 24 hours’ notice, although immediate access may be possible in emergencies. Your tenants have the right to stay in the property during the repairs.
You’re normally responsible for repairs to:
- the structure of your property
- basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings
- heating and hot water systems
- anything you damage through attempting repairs
If your property is seriously damaged by a fire, flood or other similar incident, you don’t have to rebuild or renovate it. However, if you do, you can’t charge your tenants for any repairs made.
If you own a block of flats, you’re usually be responsible for repairing common areas, like staircases. Councils can ask landlords to fix problems in common areas, or to repair a tenant’s flat that’s been damaged by another tenant.
What happens if repairs aren’t done properly
If you refuse to carry out repairs, tenants can:
- start a claim in the small claims court for repairs under £5,000
- in some circumstances, carry out the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from their rent
If you don’t make repairs to remove hazards, your tenants can ask the council to inspect the property under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and to take any action that is necessary.
If the council finds serious hazards, it must take enforcement action to make sure the hazard is removed.
If the property is temporarily unfit to live in
You can ask tenants to move out during major repairs. Before this happens, you should agree in writing:
- how long the works will last
- the tenants’ right to return
- details of any alternative accommodation
You can’t repossess a property to do repairs. However, if you’re planning substantial works, or want to redevelop the property, you can apply to the courts for an order for your tenants to leave. The courts are more likely to grant this if you provide alternative accommodation.
Repairs and charging rent
If the repairs are very disruptive, your tenants may be able to claim a reduction on their rent known as a ‘rent abatement’. This will depend on how much of the property is unusable.