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Tenants paying hundreds for repairs that landlords should cover

John Fitzsimons
Written By:
John Fitzsimons

Renters are forking out an average of £443 on repair costs for work which should be paid for by their landlords, a new study from Confused.com has revealed.

The research found there is clear confusion over who is supposed to cover this work, with around one in five (19%) of tenants admitting they are confused about precisely who is responsible for repairs of a rental property.

This would be bad enough, but the Confused.com study suggests that the most common problems experienced by tenants are also often the most expensive to put right. For example, the research found that more than two-fifths of renters (42%) have suffered with damp, while around one in three (30%) have had to cope with living in the cold as the heating had broken. More than a quarter reported having to go without the shower or the toilet for a period due to plumbing issues.

More than one in five (22%) tenants reported paying for the cost of repairs themselves, jumping to a third (33%) who have paid to fix plumbing issues, and a quarter (23%) who have forked out to have electrical issues resolved. 

Jessica Willock, home expert at Confused.com, commented: “It can be confusing to know where the responsibilities lie when landlords and tenants enter a contract, but getting clued up on who looks after what can save money, time and make for a smoother relationship in the long run.”

Who is responsible?

Landlords are legally responsible for repairs to the following:

  • the property’s structure and exterior
  • basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings including pipes and drains
  • heating and hot water
  • gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
  • electrical wiring
  • any damage they cause by attempting repairs

They are also generally responsible for looking after communal areas, such as the staircase if you live in a block of flats.

It’s really important that you check your tenancy agreement, as this will detail whether you can actually carry out any repairs yourself. Importantly you cannot be forced to carry out repairs that are your landlord’s legal responsibility, no matter what your tenancy agreement states.

Landlords are also obligated to put things right when they know there is a problem, so be sure to notify your landlord as soon as an issue develops.

Changing times for tenants

Tenants have been protected from being evicted if they can’t pay their rent during the pandemic, with the government announcing a further extension to the eviction ban in February. The ban on bailiff evictions now runs until the end of March, while the government has also unveiled plans to prevent landlords from issuing blanket bans against tenants having pets.