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Problems and Repairs

From time to time households will need maintenance and repairs or a problem will arise that will need fixing. Communication is always key, here are some things you need to know.


Your landlord is always responsible for repairs to:

  • the property's structure and exterior
  • basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings including pipes and drains
  • heating and hot water
  • gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
  • electrical wiring
  • any damage they cause through attempting repairs

Your landlord is usually responsible for repairing common areas, like staircases in blocks of flats. This information should be in your tenancy agreement.

Your responsibilities

You should only carry out repairs if the tenancy agreement says you can.

You can't be forced to do repairs that are your landlord's responsibility.

If you damage another tenant's flat, eg 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.

If your property needs repairs

Contact your landlord if you think repairs are needed. Do this straightaway for faults that could damage health, like faulty electrical wiring.

You should continue to pay your rent while waiting for repairs to be done.

Your landlord should tell you when you can expect the repairs to be done.

If repairs are not done

Ask your local council environmental health department for help. Your council can make the landlord take action if the property contains health and safety hazards.

The landlords rights of entry

Your landlord has a right to reasonable access to carry out repairs. What reasonable access means depends on why your landlord needs to get access. For example, in an emergency, your landlord is entitled to immediate access to carry out any necessary work.

Your landlord also has a right to enter the property to inspect the state of repair or to empty a fuel slot meter, but they should always ask for your permission and should give you at least 24 hours notice.

If you are staying in lodgings where it is agreed that your landlord provides a room-cleaning service or where you share a room with other lodgers, your landlord can enter without permission.

Your landlord does not have a right to enter in any other circumstances unless they have a court order.

If you are having problems with your landlord who is entering the accommodation without the tenant's permission, you should consult an experienced adviser


f a property is let furnished as a tenant you could expect a level of furnishing that would be reasonable to allow you to live in the accommodation. This would include:-

  • table and chairs in the kitchen/living room
  • sofa and/or armchairs in the living room
  • a bed and storage for clothes in each bedroom
  • heating appliances
  • curtains and floor coverings
  • a cooker, fridge, kitchen utensils and crockery.

Any upholstered furniture must comply with fire safety regulations (see under Furniture fire safety, below).If you think that the provision is not adequate, you can provide your own furniture, unless the tenancy agreement does not allow this.If you are not happy with the condition of the furniture when you move in, you could consider discussing this with your landlord. Your landlord might agree to replace it. You could check what was listed in the inventory (if one exists) (see below), or tenancy agreement about the condition of the furniture.

Damage or loss to contents/furniture

If you have damaged furniture or fittings you should tell the landlord what has happened and seek to agree on how the replacement or repair is to be arranged, and how payment will be made.

If you replace or repair an item without the agreement of your landlord, your landlord may identify this at the end of the tenancy, when they check the inventory. Your landlord might then deduct an amount from the deposit or take legal action against you for compensation.

Wear and tear

Over a period of time, most household furniture and contents deteriorate as a result of normal use, for example, floor coverings will become worn. This is known as "wear and tear", and you would not be responsible for replacing these items.

If the extent of the wear and tear means that it causes a hazard, for example, springs in an armchair begin to stick through the upholstery, your landlord should repair or replace such items.

If your landlord has supplied an appliance such as a cooker or a washing machine that was working as the beginning of the tenancy, they have a responsibility to repair or replace it if it breaks down, unless this is the result of your negligence.


If there is damage or loss of furniture or contents, the cost may be covered by your landlord's or your own insurance.

The tenancy agreement may state who is liable for any damage or loss to contents. The liable person, whether your landlord or you, should consider arranging an insurance policy to cover this liability.

You are responsible for arranging insurance cover for any contents or possessions which you own.

Damage to the property

Your landlord is usually responsible for external and major structural repairs. You are usually responsible for internal decoration and for making sure that furniture and other contents, and fixtures and fittings are not damaged because of your negligence (see under Damage or loss to contents/furniture).

You will not usually be responsible for making good any deterioration caused by "fair wear and tear". Your exact responsibilities will normally be described in the tenancy agreement.

You must take care of the property by doing the little jobs which can reasonably be expected of you, for example, unblocking drains and mending fuses.

You should also inform the landlord about any situation which could cause damage to the property, for example, a leak in the roof.

If your landlord claims that you have damaged the property, they will normally keep all or part of any deposit you may have paid to cover the cost of damage (see under Getting a deposit back at the end of a tenancy, below).

Getting a deposit back at the end of a tenancy

If you paid a deposit to your landlord at the start of a tenancy as security for any rent arrears or damage to property, this should be returned at the end of the tenancy if the accommodation has been left in good condition and there are no arrears.

If your landlord refuses to return the deposit or makes deductions, you should check the terms of the tenancy agreement or the agreed inventory (if there was one) to see what the deposit was supposed to cover. In cases of damage to property, it will often be cheaper for you to make good the damage before your landlord comes to inspect the property than for your landlord to charge for the cost of getting repairs done.

If you paid the deposit before 6 April 2007, and your landlord has refused to return it, you may have to take action in the county court to get it back. However, if you have an assured shorthold tenancy and paid your deposit from 6 April 2007, or renewed your tenancy since that date, your landlord must use a tenancy deposit protection scheme. This means your deposit is safeguarded and there are procedures not involving the court that can be used to sort out problems about the deposit at the end of the tenancy.

For more information about tenancy deposit schemes, see Tenancy deposits in Housing Fact Sheets.

If you're considering court action to get your deposit back, you'll need the help of an experienced adviser.

Azad Ayub
Surrey Property Licensing

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