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Are Your Tenants Behaving In a Tenant Like Manner?

18th January 2021

Where does the term ‘tenant like manner’ come from?

Back in 1953, there was a case brought to court to settle a dispute between a landlord and a tenant. The landlord brought forward a case that on vacating the property, it was left in such a state of demise that he believed that the tenant should be held responsible for cost of repairs. The argument was that there are some jobs which should not fall under the care of the landlord, but in fact should be taken care of as a matter of course while the tenant occupies the property.

When the judgment was made, the term ‘tenant like manner’ was phrased, and it was made clear that a tenant has a responsibility to treat a property with care and respect, and that they must ‘take proper care of the place’.

 

What are the tenants’ responsibilities in behaving in a ‘tenant-like manner’?

Let’s firstly put it out there that the majority of tenants are happy to take responsibility for basic jobs around the property. But it is worth noting that there are a very many complaints which could be avoided, if the tenants were fully aware of what their responsibilities are while they occupy a property.

A good example of this is damp. I’d gauge that there a very few landlords who haven’t at some point had a tenant complain about damp in a property, but did you know that the majority of these issues are, in fact, caused by the tenant?

That might surprise you – but there are numerous cases where the tenant causes damp issues inadvertently by drying washing indoors, failing to properly ventilate bathrooms and kitchens, not making use of ventilation fans etc.

There are many ‘little jobs’ which are simple for the tenant to take care of, and which go a long way in maintaining the comfort and structure of the property. Those expected of the tenant under the law are:

  • Unblocking sinks, toilets, and drains
  • Changing light bulbs and fuses
  • Keeping both the interior and exterior clean, including windows
  • Maintaining level boiler pressure by re-pressurising when necessary
  • Bleeding radiators
  • Changing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • General garden maintenance, such as mowing the lawn and sweeping up leaves
  • Keeping windows free from condensation
  • Ensuring that the property is kept free from pests

 

There are some jobs which are beyond my tenants’ expertise – what if they refuse or cannot do them?

OK, so you’ll recognise that jobs such as re-pressurising the boiler, dealing with pests, or unblocking drains might not be such simple tasks for the average tenant. But it’s important that they recognise that these tasks are not the responsibility of the landlord, and so should make efforts to find a tradesman or handyman who might assist with these kinds of jobs. Generally, as a tenant, they should be expected to deal with tasks which they would comfortably be able to handle if the property were their own – if it’s something that as a property owner, they wouldn’t pay someone else to do, then it’s feasible that they can take on those kinds of things themselves.

As a landlord, you should also make efforts to ensure that the tenant is well equipped to deal with things such as re-pressurising the boiler and bleeding radiators, and should provide full instructions for those kinds of tasks. Then it is up to the tenant to decide if he is comfortable in doing those, or whether to ask for assistance.

There are some items on that list that I’d happily do for my tenants – am I wrong?

It’s true that there are some landlords out there, particularly those who have reasonably small portfolios, who are quite happy to be on call for sorting out small jobs for their tenants. And of course, that’s fine. But don’t let it become an additional expense to you – remember that even those little jobs add up. Your tenants should always know that you’re doing these things out of kindness and concern for the upkeep of your property.

If you are looking to keep all your properties safe by staying compliant with current legislation, click HERE to download our FREE compliance checklist.

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