Helpful Tips Property Management

Forum Spotlight: Who is responsible for clearing blocked gutters?

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

This week a landlord posted on our Forum asking who is responsible for clearing out a blocked gutter, the tenant or the landlord.

With Autumn being here and leaves falling, this question is a pretty common one for our Landlord Advice Team. Last week our Call of the Week looked at who is responsible for sweeping up leaves from the path, and this week looks at the issue of blocked gutters. Some signs of a gutter being blocked could be:

  • You or your tenants notice animals or pests around the gutter often
  • Water can be heard or seen spilling over the sides of a gutter
  • There are plants that have started to grow in the gutter itself, or you notice the gutter is starting to sag.

What our Forum suggested

The response from our Forum was mixed, proving what a grey area this can be.

“It’s the landlords responsibility”

An experienced landlord- and regular contributor to our Forum was the first to post on this thread. They wrote that the landlord is responsible for maintaining the interior and exterior structure of the property, and this includes ensuring the gutters are unblocked. He added the importance of having a proper drainage system of water in order to keep the structure sound. Because of this, in their opinion, unblocking the gutters is the landlords responsibility.

“It’s the tenants’ responsibility”

Another landlord on our Forum disagreed with this, adding that they were sure they had read somewhere that legally the responsibility for unblocking the gutters was down to the tenant. In their opinion, this comes under Lord Denning’s 1954 rule about the tenant behaving in a “tenant like manner” and doing “little jobs” to maintain the property. That said, this landlord shared that they would never allow a tenant to go up a ladder.

Response from our Landlord Advice Team

As there were mixed views on the Forum about this, we spoke to a senior advisor in our advice team about what a landlord should do.

They clarified that a landlord has an obligation to keep the exterior of the property in good repair, so many take this to mean  the landlord is responsible and damaged or blocked drains could lead to the landlord being held liable.

It’s also potentially risky for the landlord to allow the tenants to clamber up to the top of their property to do this when a professional could do this relatively easily.

It is best therefore for the landlord to take responsibility of clearing out the gutters.

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About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.

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