It is likely that something will need repairing over the course of your tenancy. This isn’t a reflection on you or the property, accidents can just happen. But dealing with repairs while renting student accommodation can be a tricky, and sometimes expensive, process if not handled correctly. The responsibilities concerning property maintenance can vary so it’s important to be prepared to ensure you can successfully resolve a repair with your landlord without much hassle.
Firstly it’s important to determine what responsibilities are that of the tenant and that of the landlord. It is implied by law that landlords have duties to keep the rented property safe and your contract will point out who is responsible for general repairs. However, it can become confusing as to where the responsibilities lie as letting agreements can vary.
Generally, landlords are responsible for the larger concerns. These include: gas appliances (i.e the boiler), the physical structure of the property such as windows and doors, and the heating and hot water supply.
From the tenant’s perspective, the biggest responsibility to REPORT any repair issues to the landlord or managing agent. Before you even move into the property, take photos of any existing damages and send these to the landlord, so that down-the-line they don’t mistakenly charge you for repairs and damages. Other responsibilities of the tenant include periodically testing the fire-alarm, changing light bulbs and the general upkeep of the property to ensure general house maintenance and upkeep is sustained.
Reporting the Repair
You’ve found something that needs repairing and you wish to report it. But how should you go about it?
ALWAYS get any correspondence with your landlord or managing agent regarding repairs in writing. If you’ve reported the issue over the phone and in person, no problem. Just remember to follow-up with an email confirming the issue, when you reported it and to whom. Confirm in this dialogue the nature of the issue, what has stopped working and when it did so, and whether it is impacting the rest of the property.
The key here is to document every email, letter or written correspondence. If an engineer has been scheduled for a particular date, note this down, as well as any conclusions they come to when repairing the issue. This can include when they expect the repair to be completed and when it actually gets resolved. The landlord legally is allowed reasonable time to complete the repair, however what is deemed “reasonable time” will depend on the circumstances.
The After’s And Things To Keep In Mind
In the event that your landlord is taking their time seeing to the repair, or is simply not trying to resolve it at all, they could be in breach of the tenancy agreement. As such, you might be able to claim compensation through a claim against the landlord if this persists. Typically, an issue won’t be serious enough for you to leave the contract, and you may not have the right to terminate the contract early. However, you might be able to negotiate an early termination of your contract with your landlord should the issue provoke you to wish to move out. This is known as a “surrender”.
It is important to remember that you should never refuse to pay rent as a result of an ongoing repair issue. A tenant’s responsibility to pay rent is separate from the landlord’s responsibility to resolve the repair. No student wants to be faced with the prospect of eviction, as this could occur if rent is withheld.
Don’t try to fix it yourself. It’s not worth it. Unfortunately, you could be held responsible for any defects or additional damages. Always get the landlords permission (in writing!) should you wish to do anything to the property; in this case, regarding a repair.
In any case, if you’ve found an issue, report it in writing to the landlord and let them deal with it. After all, it’s their responsibility!