Landlords have a legal obligation to keep their rented property in good condition, and any gas or electrical systems must meet specified safety standards.
There are different rules for making repairs in Scotland and making repairs in Northern Ireland.
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 are 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 do not have to rebuild or renovate it. However, if you do, you cannot charge your tenants for any repairs made.
If you own a block of flats, you are usually 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.
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 cannot 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.
You may have the right to increase the rent after carrying out repairs and improvements, depending on the tenancy agreement.