What Should a Buy-To-Let Landlord Expect of Their Tenants?

As a buy-to-let landlord, you have many responsibilities. For example, you are required to maintain the property in a fit and habitable condition for your tenants. You must provide water, heating and energy, and necessary repairs must be completed in a timely fashion. However, there are also maintenance issues for which you can expect your tenants to be responsible.

Tenant Maintenance Responsibilities

Even though you are the owner, your buy-to-let property is your tenant’s home. You are not allowed to enter it without the tenant’s permission. This creates something of a dilemma for the law.

For example, the law says that you must fit smoke alarms and that they must be in working order. But if the tenant refuses entry, how can you ensure they are working? Fortunately, even though the law is an ass most of the time, common sense usually prevails. In this example, the law says that it is among tenant maintenance responsibilities to check that smoke alarms are working during their tenancy.

Here are some other tenant maintenance responsibilities that you could expect your tenants to carry out.

Keep the Property Free from Safety Hazards

You may be responsible for structural repairs that make a property unsafe. You may also be responsible to repair other issues, such as loose carpets that create a trip and fall hazard. However, the tenant assumes some maintenance responsibilities for their home.

For example, if the path or driveway has become slippery after a snowfall, it is the tenant’s responsibility to clean it and ensure it is not dangerous. You cannot be held responsible for this – it’s an act of nature.

If the tenant blocks fire escape routes, this is their responsibility. If you lock the doors on a fire escape route, it is your responsibility.

Tenants are responsible for checking and maintaining batteries in smoke alarms. They are responsible for ensuring the floors are not slippery after cleaning.

Prevent Mould Growth

Dampness and mould growth are factors for which a landlord can be prosecuted under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018. However, your tenant must also take some responsibility. They should not treat their home in a way that encourages mould growth. You should explain to them that they should:

  • Use extractor fans or open windows in rooms that are prone to moisture and condensation (such as bathrooms and kitchens)
  • Not leave damp clothes or towels on floors
  • Use the hob extractor fan when cooking

Further, if the tenant notices mould growth, they should report the issue to you immediately. It may be a structural problem that must be dealt with – and that is your responsibility.

Use Appliances Properly

You should expect tenants to use appliances properly. Microwaves are not designed to dry track shoes. Dishwashers are not designed to poach fish. While you are responsible for servicing and maintenance of appliances, your tenants are responsible for ensuring that they are not misused or abused.

Sanitary Hazards

Hygiene and cleanliness are crucial to ensuring a property remains pest free.

It is the tenant’s responsibility to ensure that rubbish is disposed of hygienically and not allowed to pile up inside or outside the property. If the tenant is a pet owner – and you have allowed them to keep a pet – the pet should be house trained and not allowed to urinate or defecate in the property.

Plumbing and Heating

You should expect your tenants to treat plumbing and heating with care. For example, a tenant should keep bathrooms and kitchens clean. Taps and sinks should be cleaned to prevent rust or mould. Toilets should not be used as a waste receptacle. Fat should not be discarded down the kitchen sink.

Heating systems should be used diligently, and in the winter heating should be kept on low during a prolonged absence from the home to help avoid freezing and bursting of water pipes.

Repair Reporting

Ensure that timely repair reporting is on the list of tenant maintenance responsibilities. As they live in the property, they are the ones who should notice maintenance needs first, and early action is always the cheapest and most effective remedy.

In Summary

As a landlord, you have many responsibilities for maintaining your buy-to-let property. However, the day-to-day maintenance needs belong to the tenant under their tenant maintenance responsibilities. The wise landlord doesn’t leave this to chance.

You should stipulate all tenant maintenance responsibilities in the tenancy agreement, and explain them to the tenant. Included in this should be how repair requests are to be reported to you. You may also agree on minor repairs that the tenant may carry out – though do so with care: remember that many repairs should only be carried out by qualified technicians, and giving permission for an unqualified tenant to do these repairs would put you in breach of the law.

We ensure that tenancy agreements are watertight for our landlords and that the tenant knows their tenant maintenance responsibilities thoroughly. We also provide a repair reporting system that lets the tenant report issues easily and quickly and allows our maintenance team to assess and deal with them in a timely fashion. It’s all part of our effortless property management services. For more information, contact Ezytrac today +44 0 1522 503 717

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Brett Alegre-Wood