Tenants Responsibilities

Like the landlord, the tenant has repairing responsibilities that are found in the express and implied terms of the tenancy.

To behave in a ‘tenant-like manner’

There is an implied term for the tenant to maintain the property in a ‘tenant-like manner’ [1]. In one case this was described as meaning that the tenant is obliged to avoid or repair wilful or negligent damage, and do the minor acts necessary to keep the premises in a reasonable state. Examples were given of repairing the electric light if it fuses and unblocking the sink if it becomes blocked by waste. The tenant’s duty includes turning off the water and emptying the boiler if going away for the winter, but not if going away for a relatively short period [2]. The duty does not cover fair wear and tear, which is the landlord’s responsibility.

To allow access for repairs – implied term

The tenant has an implied obligation to the landlord to give access for repairs. The tenant is obliged to give access to the property at reasonable times of the day to allow the landlord/landlord’s representative to view the condition of the property following 24 hours’ notice in writing,[3] or to carry out repairs following reasonable notice[4]. Regulated and assured tenants are required to give access to the property and reasonable facilities for repairs to be carried out [5]. While is no statutory obligation on the tenant to respond to the landlord’s notice and grant access in advance, preventing the landlord/landlord’s representative from exercising their right to enter on the date specified in the landlord’s notice could amount to a breach of contract [6].

Under the Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Disrepair Cases, the tenant must allow their landlord reasonable access for inspection and repair in accordance with her/his tenancy agreement [7]. Where a landlord is finding it difficult to get access to a property, s/he should communicate this to the tenant in response to any claim from the tenant in relation to a repair being carried out [8]. In one case, the County Court agreed to make an injunction to compel a housing association tenant to provide access to her property (in accordance with her tenancy agreement) to allow repairs to be carried out. The Court stated that the landlord had complied fully with the Pre-action protocol, and that the fact that there was some outstanding disagreement on the full extent of the landlord’s liability for repairs did not mean that those repairs which had been agreed should not be carried out according to the landlord’s schedule [9].

Express terms of the tenancy

The tenancy agreement, whether written or oral, may contain express terms in relation to repairs, maintenance and the landlord’s right to enter to inspect/carry out repairs. A repairing obligation in the tenancy agreement will only be binding on the tenant if:

  • it is not an unfair term, and
  • it does not relate to repairs for which the landlord has an implied statutory obligation under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 [10].

A tenancy agreement may impose express terms on the tenant in relation to facilitating the landlord’s access for the purpose of carrying out inspections and/or repair works. Such terms should be fair and the landlord should have regard to the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of her/his home. In one case, where a term in the contract required a long leaseholder to ‘permit’ the landlord access for inspection on notice, the fact that the occupier failed to respond to the landlord’s notice and grant access in advance did not amount to a breach of contract – as the landlord did not actually seek to enter the property on the specified day, there was no evidence that the tenant refused access [11].

[1] s.11(2)(a) Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

[2] Wycombe Area Health Authority v Barnett (1982) 5 HLR 84, CA.

[3] s.11(6) Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

[4] Granada Theatres v Freehold Investment (Leytonstone) [1959] 1 WLR 570.

[5] s.148 Rent Act 1977; s.16 Housing Act 1988.

[6] New Crane Wharf Freehold Ltd v Dovener [2019] UKUT 98 (LC).

[7] 7.6 Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Disrepair Cases, Ministry of Justice, 30 January 2017.

[8] 6.3(c) Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Disrepair Cases, Ministry of Justice, 30 January 2017.

[9] Liverpool Mutual Homes v Mensah 2017, County Court at Liverpool, Case No: D70LV094, August 2017.

[10] s.11(4) Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

[11] New Crane Wharf Freehold Ltd v Dovener [2019] UKUT 98 (LC).

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