Who is responsible for what in a rented house? Tenant vs Landlord

If you’re a tenant, it can sometimes be unclear which responsibilities are yours and which are the landlord’s. As a tenant, you should have a tenancy agreement that will outline both your and the landlord’s obligations when it comes to looking after the house and keeping it in a good state of repair. Sometimes it’s not as straightforward as being 100% landlord responsibility or 100% tenant duty to repair, maintain or pay.

To help you see at a glance, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common areas in which there can be confusion over who is responsible for what. Click on the icons to find out who is responsible for what.

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APPLIANCES & WHITE GOODS

ARE WHITE GOODS THE LANDLORD’S RESPONSIBILITY?

In a rented property, it’s usually the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the appliances that are present in the house when the tenant moves in are in safe working order. This could include items such as a cooker, and sometimes fridges/freezers, dishwashers and washing machines or tumble dryers, but in many cases, tenants are expected to provide their own appliances.

If an appliance, such as a cooker, vacuum cleaner, microwave, lawnmower or washing machine, is bought or installed by the tenant and was not in the property when it was rented out, the tenant remains responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of these appliances for as long as they remain in the house.

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DAMP

IS MY LANDLORD RESPONSIBLE FOR DAMP?

There are different kinds of damp, and the type of damp issue dictates whether the landlord or tenant is responsible. The property should be damp-free when the tenant moves in and the landlord is responsible for ensuring this is the case.

If damp appears during the tenancy through the walls from outside, it’s likely to be penetrative or rising damp, which is the landlord’s responsibility to fix, along with any redecoration that might be required because of the damp. Penetrating damp is commonly caused by issues with the roof, guttering, drainage or external pipes. It can also be caused by rotten windows or doors and cracked walls that allow moisture in. Rising damp usually affects the lower area of the ground floor and may signal a problem with, or lack of, damp-proof course (DPC) in the house.

However, if the damp is caused by condensation inside the house, it generally falls to the tenant to reduce moisture inside the room(s) and ensure the house is well ventilated so the damp doesn’t continue and spread. However, if the condensation is forming due to a structural issue with the house or an inability to ventilate the area e.g. windows don’t open, it may be the landlord’s job to resolve the problem.

Tenants should report any type of damp to their landlord as soon as it is noticed, so that the issue can be properly assessed and to stop the problem from getting any worse.

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COUNCIL TAX

SHOULD LANDLORD OR TENANT PAY FOR COUNCIL TAX?

When a property is rented out to tenants, they are always the party responsible for paying the correct amount of council tax due to the local authority. If the tenant is eligible to receive Council Tax Reduction, or Council Tax Support, this can be applied for with their relevant council, as each area runs its own scheme and has its own eligibility criteria. Full-time students are not liable to pay council tax, but any other adults living in household are, potentially at a discounted rate. The best thing to do, for tenants unsure of their situation, is to contact their local authority as soon as possible to ensure the correct amount of council tax is being paid.

The only time that a landlord is responsible for paying the council tax is when the property is not tenanted. If tenants fall into arrears with their council tax, the council will pursue any debt with the tenants and not the landlord.

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CLEANING

WHAT ARE A TENANT’S CLEANING RESPONSIBILITES?

Before a tenant moves into a property, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the house is in an adequate condition of cleanliness for people to move into.

Once the tenancy has started, all of the responsibility for keeping the property clean now becomes the tenant’s. Some private landlords, housing associations or councils carry out regular checks on their properties to ensure they are being maintained internally by their tenants, but this will differ, depending on the landlord. When a tenant moves out of a property, they are responsible for leaving it in a clean and tidy condition; to at least the standard that the house was in when they moved in. Failure to do so may result in part or all of their deposit being withheld by the landlord to pay for any damages or cleaning required.

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RUBBISH DISPOSAL

IS DISPOSING OF RUBBISH THE LANDLORD OR TENANT’S RESPONSIBILITY?

The Landlord is only responsible for removing rubbish from the property before a tenant moves in. Once the tenants are living in the house, all of the responsibility for appropriately disposing of their waste falls to those living there. It’s down to the tenant to correctly use their council-provided bins and ensure that they are placed out for collection on the right days. This relates to household waste, recyclables and garden waste, when relevant.

If the tenant ever replaces their own furniture or appliances, they are obligated to arrange the removal of the old items from the property and for them to be disposed of appropriately and legally.

The only time that a landlord may be responsible for removing rubbish or waste is if they are carrying out repairs or improvement works on the property (or contractors are doing so on the landlord’s behalf) and this activity creates a mess. In this situation, the landlord and their contractors are responsible for removing any waste or rubbish that they create as they work.

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BOILER/HEATING SYSTEM

DOES MY LANDLORD HAVE BOILER RESPONSIBILITY?

It is always the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that their property has a working boiler system, that heating and hot water is available to tenants and that all related appliances are operating safely. This includes central heating, any fitted gas fires, electric heaters or other methods for heating the home provided by the landlord.

Tenants are sometimes expected to do small maintenance tasks themselves with their heating system, such as bleeding the radiators. If this is the case, the landlord should provide full instructions of when and what is required, along with providing appropriate tools, such as a radiator key.

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WATER LEAKS

ARE WATER LEAKS THE LANDLORD’S RESPONSIBILITY?

The pipework, radiators, fittings and valves are the responsibility of the landlord, so if the leak is caused by failures of any of these things, the landlord must handle the repairs and make right any other damage caused by the leak. If the leak is caused by sealant failure in the bathroom or kitchen, it is also down to the landlord to repair. If the leak is coming in from outside the house e.g. leaky roof, windows or guttering are allowing water in when it rains, this is also an issue that the landlord is responsible for fixing. As with most types of disrepair, the longer the problem goes on, usually the worse and more costly the eventual damage to the property is to fix.

If the leak is caused by the tenant’s negligence or the problem is made worse because the tenant did not report the leak as soon as they noticed there was an issue, the tenant may be required to pay for, or contribute towards, the cost of repairs, in some cases.