Landlord or Tenant - Who is Responsible for What? 1st Aug 2015

A significant number of tenants are unaware of their responsibilities when it comes to maintaining a rented property. The confusion surrounding this can lead to disputes when it comes to the end of a tenancy. There needs to be more clarity over who is responsible for maintaining which aspect of the property. So who is responsible for what?

Tenants

Tenancy Agreement
- The tenancy agreement should lay out the responsibilities of the tenant, therefore tenants should make sure they understand and are familiar with the lease.
- All tenants must read and comply with the tenancy agreement as regards its policies on smoking in the property, keeping pets etc.

Looking after Rental Properties
- Keeping the property clean and tidy, and not causing any damage to it. If tenants or any of their visitors cause any damage to the property, then they will be liable for fixing the damage. For example, if the carpet is getting a little worn, this will be seen as wear and tear. If a hole is burned in it, this is damage and the tenants will be liable for putting this right.
- Carrying out minor repairs such as changing fuses and light bulbs, as well as checking smoke alarms.
- Using all fixtures and fittings properly (eg, not blocking a toilet by flushing anything unsuitable down it).
- Heating the property adequately, particularly during winter to avoid frozen and burst pipes, and making sure it's kept well ventilated, to help avoid condensation and dampness.
- If tenants wish to make any changes or improvements (including redecoration) to their home, they must get permission first. They should speak to the letting agent who will follow it up with the landlord.

Repairs

- Tenants must report any repairs needed by contacting the letting agent if they have one. If not contact the landlord directly.
- Tenants must give access for repairs. Unless it is an emergency, the tenant is entitled to 24 hours’ notice from the letting agent/landlord.

Tenant Appliances / Belongings
- Tenants are responsible for maintaining and replacing their own appliances (fridge, washing machine etc), and belongings. The tenant is responsible for insuring personal possessions.

Rent / Other charges
- Tenants are responsible for keeping up to date with all rent payments. If they fall behind they face eviction.
- Tenants are responsible for paying all utilities, council tax and any service charges.

Be a Good Tenant and Neighbour

- Tenants must be respectful of their neighbours and must not behave in any way that can be seen as antisocial. This applies to children, pets and visitors too. Tenants can be evicted for antisocial behaviour.

End the Tenancy Properly
- Tenants need to give the correct notice otherwise they will be liable for rent. This will be stated in the tenancy agreement.

If renting through a letting agent, any issues to do with the property should be fed back to the agent rather than the landlord. It is the agent’s job to carry out necessary repairs on behalf of the landlord. By going to the agent, any works should be attended to more quickly.

Landlords

Generally, the landlord is responsible for:

- Repairs to the structure and exterior of the property, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors. The property must be wind and water tight, and meet Repairing Standard criteria.
- Repairs to basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework.
- Repairs to water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.
- Repairs to communal areas.
- Ensuring all safety certificates are up to date.
- Ensuring all fixtures, fittings and furnishings provided are in a reasonable state of repair and in good working order.
- Repairing or replacing items stated on the inventory that are provided as part of the tenancy.
- Placing your deposit in an approved scheme and dealing with the deposit at the end of the tenancy.

Landlords must not pass the cost of any repair work that is their responsibility on to tenants.

Letting agents act as an intermediary between tenant and landlord, helping to resolve any disputes before they get out of hand. Disputes are common, and are on the increase. Landlords who use a letting agent can sit back and relax, knowing that the letting agent is dealing with all of this for them. Choose a letting agent who is a member of a registered body, such as the Council of Letting Agents, and Landlord Accreditation Scotland. The Key Place is a member of both and adheres to their policies.

The Key Place is one of Scotland’s leading letting agencies, managing properties throughout Edinburgh & the Lothians, Central Scotland and the Scottish Borders. Please contact us if you would like any advice on your rental property.