Warm tenants make for happy tenants. What’s more, landlords have a legal responsibility under the 1985 Tenancy Act “to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water.”
Faulty boilers and plumbing can cause serious problems for landlords. In fact, damage caused by escape of water (usually a result of frozen pipes) is our number one property damage claim. 34 per cent of all claims paid out since 2008 were for escape of water, which is two and a half times higher than the next most common claim type.
When it comes to boilers, heating and hot water, it isn’t always easy to know who’s responsible for what. Landlords may be responsible for ensuring that the heating is operational, but who’s responsible for bleeding radiators?
These grey areas can lead to confusion and even disputes around what landlords need to do to make sure they’re holding up their end of the tenancy agreement. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the landlord and tenants’ responsibilities when it comes to boilers, heating, hot water and fireplaces.
Landlords are responsible for making sure that the boiler in the property is serviced on an annual basis. You’re also responsible for making sure that the person you get to do the servicing has the proper qualifications and certification. And you should ask for a copy of the safety certificate and keep it on record, this record should show:
- The appliances that were tested
- The results of the assessment
- Any issues or repair work that are required
- The engineer’s name and contact details
- The name and address of the property and its landlord
It’s also important to make sure that the engineer gives the boiler a thorough going over. This will commonly include:
- Ensuring that the controls that you use to operate the boiler are working
- That gas and water pressure are at typical levels
- That all internal components or parts are in working order and don’t show signs of damage or wear
- That the flue and combustion release are clear and not blocked
- That all seals are watertight and that there are no signs of rusting that may indicate a leak
- That all electrical connections are secure
Find out more about the top five boiler problems and how to solve them.
While the landlord is responsible for making sure that the boiler is in good working order, the tenant is responsible for using it in the right way and reporting any faults or issues quickly.
This includes making sure that the property maintains a minimum temperature of 12°C – 15°C in order to prevent the pipes from bursting. Simple maintenance like re-pressuring the boiler is also the tenant’s responsibility and any issues that are caused by intentional or accidental misuse of the boiler are the fault of the tenant.
Bleeding and draining radiators
The landlord is legally responsible for ensuring that tenants have hot water and adequate sanitation at all times. This includes boiler repairs but also making sure that the plumbing delivering hot water to the kitchen, toilets and bathrooms is in good working order.Total loss of hot water in a property over the winter months is considered an emergency and should be dealt with immediately after it’s been reported.
The tenant’s responsibilities for hot water are similar to the boiler – the tenant is responsible for managing the usage and reporting any issues, such as leaks. When it comes to plumbing, reporting issues quickly is vital, even small or slow leaks can cause serious structural damage over time. It may be worth explaining this to your tenants when they move in.
Fireplaces are another grey area and different sources online can vary in their interpretation of the rules. The Landlord Law Blog is a reliable source of information on these matters.Their interpretation is that landlords are responsible for making sure that the chimney, fireplace and flues are all in good working order at the beginning of the tenancy. The landlord is also responsible for dealing with any structural repair work required at any time.
The tenant is responsible for the safe use of the fire such as keeping flammable objects far from the hearth and using a fireguard. They are also responsible for keeping the chimney in a safe condition – including keeping it swept – once the tenancy is underway.
Make sure your tenancy agreement reflects your responsibilities
It’s vital to know the rules. But it’s also important to make sure that your interpretation of the rules is reflected in your tenancy agreement. Without this, your legal footing in the event of a dispute will be seriously undermined.Tenants who are left without basic amenities such as heating and hot water over the winter months are likely to end their tenancy and may even take legal action against their landlords. Both of which are situations that landlords should avoid if possible. Understanding where your responsibilities start and end is a good way to make sure that you’re doing everything you should be doing to ensure your tenant’s health and comfort.With thanks to Hamilton Fraser Solicitors.