The weather is getting noticeably cooler and streets are covered in blankets of leaves.
Autumn is now in full swing, but exactly who is responsible for clearing those dead leaves that are blocking the gutter?
At this time of year, there are many seasonal problems that landlords and tenants may face, and our advice team is on hand to help our members when these difficulties arise.
This week the advice team took a call from one of our members who was faced with a number of these potential problems.
There is a garden to the rear of the property which was beginning to deteriorate as a result of lack of care from the tenants (this landlord didn’t have a gardener).
The grass had become overgrown, there was weeding that needed doing and leaves which had fallen from trees littered the garden, the garden pathway and had also started to now clog the gutters. The landlord had raised this with the tenant on a number of occasions but there has been no progress.
Firstly, we checked if the member used the RLA tenancy agreement or if they have an agreement from elsewhere. They were using our latest agreement and so the tenants are made responsible for looking after the garden. (Landlords who do not use an RLA tenancy agreement are advised to read their tenancy agreements to see what it says regarding this issue)
Gardens should be kept tidy and any grass cut regularly, but does not have to be improved by the tenant. Tenants are only responsible for basic maintenance of the garden in that sense.
Our member is well within their rights to point this out to their tenant, that they should be sweeping the leaves and trimming back the grass, and inform them that if they do not sort the garden out then the costs for the landlord having to appoint a gardener will be recovered as damages from the deposit at end of tenancy.
Responsibility for clearing debris from gutters
With the gutters however, this is something for the landlord to resolve and this is made explicitly clear in section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985; the exterior of the property including drains gutters and external pipes are for the landlord to maintain and keep in good repair.
Responsibility for clearing debris for chimneys
As well as debris getting in gutters, at this time of year it may also get into chimneys-something that could become dangerous if it is not sorted out swiftly.
This is actually something that is classed as a tenant’s responsibility as part of what is known as living in a ‘tenant like manner’ much in the same way as changing a lightbulb is a tenant’s job. Practically, however, asking your tenant to clean the chimney could be a difficult job for them to do and could lead to something falling down on to them. It may be advisable to get a professional to do the job rather than expecting tenants to do this.
Responsibility for dealing with condensation
Another common issue at this time of year is Condensation, as cold weather is one of the leading causes of condensation in many households. To avoid condensation arising and leading to damp and mould, tenants may be advised to leave the heating on a low setting all day when it gets very cold. Trying to avoid producing moisture from cooking and drying clothes where they shouldn’t be dried can also help.
Landlords should make sure there is adequate ventilation, perhaps with extractor fans, to allow tenants to live normally and not cause a high level of condensation incidental to this. It is also a good idea to make sure the home is insulated and draught proofed. To learn more about what can be done to reduce condensation and deal with mould, why not sign up to our course?
Learn more about responsibility for carrying out repairs In our Property Standards eLearning course.