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Who’s responsible? Landlord or tenant?

Before you start a DIY plumbing job, it’s worth checking whether there are any legal requirements you need to fulfill. And of course, you should make sure any work you carry out is done safely.

Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, it’s good to be clear of your responsibilities.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 applies here. But this is the gist of what it says (for more detail you’ll need to refer to the act):

  • The landlord is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the central heating (among other things) – unless it’s not working because of maltreatment by the tenant
  • It’s illegal for the landlord to put a clause in any tenancy agreement stating that major works to the heating and hot water is the responsibility of the tenant
  • It’s always best to notify problems in writing
  • Once a problem has been reported, the tenant needs to give the landlord access to the property and allow them reasonable time to find the right person to fix the problem and start the work
  • Rent must continue to be paid while any work is being carried out

Repairs to housing executive and housing association homes

If you’re a landlord, you’re responsible for:

  • Clearing blocked sewers, drains and external waste pipes, other than gullies and waste pipes blocked through tenant misuse
  • Boilers and hot water cylinders
  • Pipe work, radiators, fittings and valves
  • Boilers and hot water cylinders
  • Pipe work, radiators, fittings and valves

If you’re a tenant, you’re responsible for:

  • Stoppers and chains for baths, sinks and basins
  • Replacement of wash basins, toilet bowls and seats (except where they’re damaged or discoloured through fair wear-and-tear or by faulty installation)
  • Replacement of baths, sinks and drainers (except where they’re damaged or discoloured through fair wear-and-tear or by faulty installation)

Private renting

Landlords are responsible for repairs to:

  • Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings including pipes and drains
  • Heating and hot water
  • Gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
  • Any damage they cause by attempting repairs
  • Heating and hot water
  • Gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
  • Any damage they cause by attempting repairs

Landlords and gas safety. Landlords must:

  • Make sure gas equipment they supply is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer
  • Have a registered engineer do an annual gas safety inspection on each appliance and flue
  • Give tenants a copy of the gas safety inspection record before tenants move in, or within 28 days of the inspection

Tenant responsibilities:

  • You should only carry out repairs if the tenancy agreement says you can
  • Take good care of the property, e.g. turn off the water at the mains if you’re away in cold weather
  • If you damage another tenant’s flat, e.g. if water leaks into another flat from an overflowing bath, you’re responsible for paying for the repairs. You’re also responsible for paying to put right any damage caused by your family and friends