Damage To Your Rental Property: Who’s Responsibility Is It?
When damage occurs to a rental property, it’s important to know who is responsible for making repairs. While the landlord owns the property, certain repairs may still fall to the tenant. Below are some of the different types of damage that can occur to a rental property and who is responsible in each case.
Damage caused by the tenant
If a tenant damages your property, it’s usually their responsibility to fix it. This could be anything from a broken door to a stained carpet. Damage caused by neglect can also be the fault of the tenant (e.g. if a tenant spends winter away and a pipe bursts because they didn’t turn the water off at the mains, it is their responsibility to fix the pipe).
In most cases, it’s still wise for landlords to discuss repair options with their tenants. It may be easier for you to source someone to carry out the repairs – you may know someone that can do it cheaply and to a professional standard. Your tenant can still pay for the repairs out of their pocket.
If you’ve discovered damage to a property after a tenant has moved out and they didn’t report it, the cost of fixing this damage can be taken out of the tenant’s deposit. It’s worth keeping an inventory list that describes the condition of the property in detail when you first rent it out so that you can prove that the damage wasn’t there before
Wear and tear
Damage caused by wear and year is usually the responsibility of the landlord to fix. This includes any natural damage or damage as the result of everyday usage such as leaks and rising damp, wind damage, electrical problems due to worn wiring, plumbing issues due to years of usage and appliances that have broken down due to age.
Sometimes there can be areas of dispute such as a wooden floor that has become extremely worn in a short period. Mould can often be an area of debate but generally always falls to the landlord to fix – ventilation improvements such as extractor fans and trickle vents may be required to prevent mould.
Obviously, anything that the tenant owns is up to them to fix. For instance, if you did not supply a tumble dryer, they buy one and it breaks, it is not your responsibility.
If the property is burgled or vandalised, it is up to you to make any repairs to damage. This could include finding local glaziers to repair windows or repairing a door that has been kicked in. On top of making these repairs, it could be worth investing in security improvements to help your tenants feel safer and prevent future break-ins.
Criminal damage can be an area of dispute if it was caused by a guest of a tenant. You should make sure for certain that it was a criminal act.
There are some forms of damage that are neither the fault of the tenant or landlord. This may include water damage as the result of a leak from a neighbour’s property or damage caused by a workman on the property. In these cases, it is up to this third party to pay for repairs.
Damage caused by disasters such as fires and floods is usually up to the landlord, but if you have property insurance you’ll usually be covered. Property insurance may even cover certain wear and tear in certain cases.