Landlords and tenants are both responsible for keeping the property in good condition.
If you’re a landlord you should carry out regular inspections. This helps you check there's no damage and that the tenant’s keeping the property clean and tidy. You should also carry out repairs promptly. It helps to have a good network of service people if you can’t do the work yourself.
A landlord can’t give notice to end a tenancy because the tenant has asked for repair or maintenance work to be done. This is called a retaliatory notice.
Landlords must manage asbestos at their property
Landlords must manage any asbestos-related risks when work is being done at their property. This is to protect the health and safety of tenants, neighbours, contractors and anyone else who may be affected.
Landlords must comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016.
Asbestos was a common building material up until the 1980s. It may also be in properties built or renovated before 1 January 2000.
As a landlord you may not have to remove asbestos from your property but you will need to manage any related risks. For example, if contractors are doing repairs, this could disturb material that contains asbestos.
Landlords are responsible for cleaning the chimney
Cleaning the chimney is usually the landlord’s responsibility. The tenant is responsible for cleaning the ashes from the hearth. The landlord may wish to have the chimney swept and checked at least annually to make sure it’s safe. Some insurance policies won't cover the property unless this is done.
Landlords and tenants can be responsible for light bulbs
The Residential Tenancies Act does not cover who is responsible for supplying or replacing light bulbs.
It’s a good idea to talk about this at the start of the tenancy and note what you agree in the tenancy agreement. It may be that the landlord supplies working light bulbs at the start of the tenancy, and the tenant replaces any that stop working.
As non-standard light bulbs can be more expensive or harder to fit, the landlord may agree to pay for these.
Landlords and tenants should maintain the outside of the house
The landlord is usually responsible for outside cleaning and maintenance tasks. For example house-washing or gutter cleaning.
The tenant can do outdoor cleaning tasks like window cleaning, as they're responsible for keeping the property clean and tidy. This only applies if the windows are accessible. It does not include windows for apartment buildings or multi-level houses. It is a good idea to discuss this at the start of the tenancy and note what is agreed on the tenancy agreement.
Tenants cannot renovate, alter or add fixtures to the property unless the landlord agrees. Any changes must either:
- be in line with the tenancy agreement, or
- the tenant must have the landlord's written consent (the landlord can’t unreasonably withhold consent).
Fixtures are things that are fixed in position, like:
- garden sheds
- spa pools
- heat pumps
- security alarms or lights
- clothes lines
- panel heaters.
Tenants can't remove their fixtures if it will cause damage to the property that can’t be repaired. Sometimes landlords let tenants add new fixtures on the condition that they become the landlord’s property at the end of the tenancy.
Any fixture put up by a tenant that isn’t removed at the end of the tenancy becomes the property of the landlord. This doesn’t apply if the landlord and tenant have come to a different agreement.
If you’re a tenant and you cause damage when removing fixtures, tell the landlord. The landlord can then tell you whether they want you to fix the damage, or compensate them.