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When things go wrong, as they sometimes do, it is important to know what to do and who is responsible. One of the first things you might want to do is check your contract (unless it is an emergency!) as it sets out who is responsible for what – whether it is the tenants or the landlord.

Any disrepair should be reported to the landlord as soon as possible, the landlord can’t fix it if they don’t know it’s broken! Don’t necessarily rely on your housemates to inform them as everyone might think someone else has done it. It would be better for it to be reported more than once than not at all.

Where possible, try and put things in writing. This will help you date when issues arose and you will have a record of the correspondence so you and the landlord both know where you stand. Yes, by all means call your landlord but follow your conversation up with an email summarising what was discussed and agreed on.

Who Should Pay For the Repairs?
The responsibility for paying for the repairs depends on who is responsible for causing the damage. If there is no fault caused by a tenant or a guest of any of the tenants, then it is likely that there is an issue with the property or appliance which the landlord would be responsible for. If, however, it is clear that damage has been caused to the property or an item by a tenant or the guest of a tenant, then the cost will usually be passed on to the tenant(s). These are only general guidelines, and this is something that you would need to discuss with the landlord regarding the specific situation.

Fair Wear and Tear
Fair wear and tear has been defined by the House of Lords as “reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces”. In simpler terms, this means that fair wear and tear is the normal day-to-day use of the property, furniture and furnishings.

It is possible for an item to become damaged by fair wear and tear, in a situation where fair wear and tear is the only cause of the damage we would not expect you to have to pay for the repair or replacement.

Fair wear and tear must also be taken into consideration for an item that has been damaged to calculate the amount that the tenant(s) are required to pay. The landlord can only charge you for the worth of the item as it was when you moved in, which (unless it was brand new) will not be the full value.

As an example, a carpet which may have a lifespan of 10 years, and is 5 years old when damaged by an iron burn cannot be charged at the purchase cost of the original carpet. As it is half way through its lifespan, it would be expected that the cost passed on to the tenant would be roughly half of the original amount or half of the purchase of the new item as long as it is like for like.

Obviously, this is just an example, so please don’t assume all carpets have a lifespan of 10 years! It is a number used as an example to make it easier to understand.

Inadequate heating and ventilation can cause issues in your accommodation such as condensation, damp and mould, particularly if you are drying your clothes inside. If it is found that damage has been caused to the property due to a lack of heating, you may be charged for the repairs. But more importantly, you could be damaging your health.

You must also make sure that during the winter, you have the heating on for a few hours per day (even if none of you are there!) throughout the season to make sure that the pipes do not freeze and burst. This is of particular importance over the Christmas vacation when the property could be empty for a few weeks. It could cost you much more to pay for the damage than the amount you would have paid for the heating.

The deposit you paid when you signed the contract can be held against any damage caused by you and any other tenants. If the damage is caused in your room, it is usual that you would be required to pay the full amount, but if the damage is in the common areas the cost will usually be split between all of the tenants unless someone has taken responsibility.

If the damage is caused by a guest or non-resident, it will remain the responsibility of the tenant(s) to pay for the damage caused. This is often something that you agree to when you sign the contract.

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