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.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PEST CONTROL WHEN RENTING?
When a tenant moves into a rented property, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to make sure that the house is vermin-free at that point.
It’s the tenant’s responsibility to ensure that their actions whilst living in the property don’t encourage pests such as mice, rats and cockroaches to stick around. This means making sure that rubbish and food waste is disposed of properly and promptly, storing food securely, as well as regularly cleaning the home and clearing out any clutter which could become a home to these pests. If pest control services are required due to the tenant being negligent in these areas, the tenant would need to foot the bill for this.
If the house is in need of repair and these issues are allowing vermin into the property, e.g. a hole in an exterior wall, roof cavity or eaves, broken pipework or uncovered drains that allow pests inside, it is the landlord’s responsibility to make the necessary repairs to the house, arrange for pest control measures and fix any damage that the vermin have caused inside the property e.g. chewed wires.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR BUILDINGS INSURANCE – LANDLORD OR TENANT?
There are two different types of home insurance. Landlords are responsible for ensuring that buildings insurance is in place. This covers the structure of the house, in case of events such as storm damage, fire, flooding and subsidence. Landlords may also wish to take out additional insurance to cover them for loss of rent and for public liability.
Tenants living in rented properties are usually responsible for taking out their own contents insurance if they want to protect their belongings and furniture, as this is not covered by buildings insurance. Landlords are only usually responsible for organising contents insurance if they let out a furnished property, and this policy would only cover the furniture owned by the landlord, not any of the tenants’ own belongings.
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.
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.
ARE TENANTS OR LANDLORD RESPONSIBLE FOR SAFETY EQUIPMENT?
Ensuring that the required safety equipment is in place in the property, is in full working order, and is correctly maintained, is always the responsibility of the landlord. This includes everything from smoke detectors being installed on each storey, to gas safety certificates being acquired at least annually.
It’s also the responsibility of the landlord to make sure that the electrical system in the house is safe to use and that any appliances they have provided to the tenant are also safe.
Tenants have the right to live in a property that is safe and free from health hazards.
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.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DECORATING A RENTED PROPERTY?
When a tenant moves into a new rented property, it will usually already be decorated in a neutral style. If a tenant wishes to redecorate, they will usually need to seek permission from their landlord, and it will need to be paid for by the tenant.
Landlords may be responsible for paying for redecoration if the house requires structural repairs and the current decoration is damaged during this process. If flooring is broken or unsafe, this can also be the responsibility of the landlord to fix in certain circumstances.
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.
WHO PAYS FOR DAMAGE IN A RENTAL PROPERTY?
The tenants in a rented property are fully responsible for repairing or replacing anything that they, or anyone else living at or visiting the house, have damaged. This includes anything that the landlord supplied with the house, as well as the tenant’s own belongings and furnishings.
Landlords have a responsibility to repair and maintain the structure of the house and some permanent fixtures and fittings, including hot water and heating systems. However, if damage is caused to these things as a result of a direct action by a tenant, they may be required to foot the bill by the landlord.
If a landlord causes damage to the home or belongings whilst they are making repairs to a property, it is their responsibility to repair this damage.
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.
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.
ARE TENANTS OR LANDLORD RESPONSIBLE FOR SANITATION, PLUMBING & DRAINS?
In a rented property, it is usually the landlord’s responsibility to repair broken boilers, water tanks, toilets and to clear drains if blockages occur.
In the event that a direct and negligent or malicious action by the tenant has resulted in blockages to a drain or damage to sanitary ware, such as sinks, baths or toilets, the tenant may be required to foot the bill for the repairs themselves.
Tenants are sometimes expected to carry out small maintenance jobs themselves, such as replacing worn washers on taps, replacing or repairing cracked or broken toilet seats and replacing plugs or stoppers if needed.
DOES THE TENANT OR LANDLORD HAVE GARDEN RESPONSIBILITIES?
If a rented property has a private garden, it is usually the tenant’s responsibility to keep it, and any other outside space that comes with the house, to a tidy and well-maintained standard. If there are private outbuildings with the rented property and the area is fenced or has a wall, it is usually the landlord’s responsibility to carry out any necessary maintenance work or repairs on the structure of these areas, but not on the garden or yard itself.
If the garden or outside space is communal and used by more than one tenant, the landlord will usually arrange for this to be maintained professionally, so tenants are not responsible unless other private arrangements are made.
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.
WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY IS STRUCTURAL MAINTENANCE?
When it comes to the structure of rented property itself, the landlord is responsible for all repairs and maintenance. This includes the roof, walls, staircases, chimney, skirting boards, internal woodwork, external doors, external brickwork, windows, guttering, drains and exterior pipes.
The tenant’s responsibility is to report any disrepair issues with the structure of their home to the landlord as soon as they spot the problem.