Should you supply white goods, and what are your obligations?
As a buy-to-let landlord, should you supply white goods (fridges, washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers, etc.)? And, if you do, what are your responsibilities toward them? This article answers both these questions.
Should you supply white goods in a buy-to-let property?
While white goods are included in most rental properties, there is no obligation to provide them. The benefits of including white goods in your property include:
- A wider market of potential tenants
- You can charge more for your property than if it does not include white goods
However, if you want to restrict the appeal of your property to those tenants who may have their own white goods already (generally older tenants or those moving from other accommodation with their own white goods), then you may wish to exclude them.
The decision whether to supply white goods is entirely up to you, though if you don’t include white goods you may suffer from shorter tenancies (many tenants with their own white goods rent as a stop-gap measure between house purchases) and longer void periods (because of the restricted market).
If you supply white goods, what are your responsibilities for them?
Here’s the good news. Under the law, a buy-to-let landlord has no obligation to repair white goods in their property. This is stated in black and white within Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Here’s what you are responsible for keeping in repair (and proper working order):
- The structure and exterior of the dwelling, including drains, gutters and external pipes
- The installations in the dwelling for the supply of water, gas, electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences), but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity
- The installation in the dwelling for space heating and heating water
White goods are specifically excluded by the wording in point ii (“not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity”).
However, before you jump for joy, you do have a responsibility for ensuring that white goods are safe, under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994. (Read about electrical safety for buy-to-let landlords.)
Make white goods repairs a contractual obligation
As the law of statute means a landlord has no responsibility to repair white goods, but must ensure that they are safe to operate, it is best to include clauses in the tenancy agreement to confirm exact responsibilities of the tenant and the landlord. This will avoid argument and tension caused by confusion over who should undertake repair work.
For example, if the rubber around a washing machine door breaks, causing the washing machine to leak, should you as a landlord pay for the repair because it could cause safety issues (water and electric don’t mix)?
Including clauses in the contract that make it clear who is responsible for repairs to white goods, and under what circumstances, removes any confusion. You and your tenant know exactly where you stand. Remember, if any such clauses are included then you should bring them to the attention of your tenant, explain them, and ensure that your tenant understands them.
If you do supply white goods, we would recommend that you take on the responsibility for repairs. This way, you’ll know that repairs are made professionally and properly. If you do want the tenant to be responsible for the white goods that you supply, then this should be made clear in the tenancy agreement. Remember, though, that you cannot transfer your responsibility to ensure the safety of electrical and gas appliances.
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