Damage and Repairs to a Rental Property: Who is Liable?
So, its official, February 2020 was the wettest on record! In fact, the 2019/20 winter has been the wettest since we started recording the weather. Not that we really needed confirmation of that fact, but it’s nice to know. It’s not surprising when you think that the UK suffered three storms in three weekends – Storm Ciara, Storm Dennis and then Storm Jorge. The number of homes that suffered devastating damage from the wind and rain is in its hundreds. So, if you’re a tenant in a rented property that’s been hit by the storms, who is liable for the repairs?
Who deals with physical damage to a property due to ‘acts of nature’?
There is no doubt that the UK is experiencing extreme weather conditions at the moment; this winter is no exception. This has resulted in rented properties suffering from damage, be it the property itself or the land it sits on. The legal term for damage caused by forces outside of someone’s control, such as floods, lightening and violent storms, is ‘vis major’. It also covers permanent fixtures in the property, i.e. kitchens, bathrooms, carpets and curtains, and if trees fall within the boundaries of the property.
In cases such as these, it is the responsibility of the property owner, usually the landlord, to carry out the repairs for any damage that is caused under the ‘vis major’ parameters.
Who do I contact?
For tenants, the first port of call is the managing agent to advise them of any damage that has occurred. Not only will they be able to provide you with valuable advice, they will contact the landlord to notify them of the problem and instruct the relevant services to deal with the damage as soon as possible. However, if, the property is not managed by an agent, you will need to contact the landlord directly.
For landlords, and tenants, engaging the management services of a reputable letting agent that you can trust is ‘worth its weight in gold’, particularly when properties are being hit by such extreme weather conditions that are outside a person’s control. Not only are they able to handle all tenant-related issues, they will deal with any damages and repairs at your property, providing you, and the tenant, with complete peace of mind.
Who is liable for repairs at a rented property?
Outside of the above scenarios, it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the property is rented out in a habitable condition. It has to meet minimum health and safety standards. Engaging a letting agent to ensure that these standards are met at all times can be a valuable time-saver for landlords.
When damage occurs to a property, such as water leaks, heating systems that aren’t working, faulty electrical wiring or damaged white/fixed items, it is the landlord’s responsibility to have them repaired. However, they are not responsible for any cosmetic damage, i.e. carpet stains, broken plaster or holes in the wall. That is down to the tenant to cover the cost of repairs.
For landlords, instructing a responsible, reputable letting agent to manage your rental property not only ensures that any issues arising are handled in a timely manner, and effectively, but reduces much of the stress of being a landlord. For tenants, they are able to feel confident that any issues, such as storm damage, are dealt with.