Dear Barry

Ask Barry Image

It won't surprise you to hear that many of the enquiries my team deals with on a daily basis relate to repairs. As an agency, we deal directly with most of our landlords' tenants when it comes to dealing with repairs in the properties we manage.

And you know what they say - for every person who picks up the phone to solve a problem, there are at least two more who will search for answers online, so I thought it was time for a quick article looking at who is responsible for what when it comes to repairs within private rented properties.

Most landlords (really it should be all landlords!) will have a robust tenancy agreement in place before they even think about handing over keys to a house or flat. But, for a myriad of reasons, not all do.

Perhaps the tenant is a friend, or the daughter of a friend, or the nephew... you get the picture. Sometimes the relationship between the landlord and tenant creates an assumption on one or both sides that certain things (like repairs) will be looked after by certain parties.

And that, dear reader, is what legislation is for. The Private Tenancies (NI) Order 2006 sets out default terms governing who is responsible for what repairs in the absence of an agreement or contract.

Landlord Default Repairing Responsibilities:

  • Repair the structure and exterior of the property comprised in the tenancy (includes drains, gutters and external pipes. This duty imposes a requirement to keep exterior paintwork in reasonable order)
  • Repair the exterior of a property other than matters imposed on the tenant
  • Repair and keep in working order:
    • Installations in the property which provide water, gas, electricity and sanitation
    • Installations in the property for space heating or heating water
    • Appliances provided under the tenancy for making use of water, gas or electricity (eg, kettle, microwave, etc)
    • Fixtures, fittings and furnishings provided by the landlords under the terms of the tenancy

If the tenancy is for an apartment in a shared building and your tenant has the right to use other parts of the building for access, etc - then there are additional default responsibilities. You'll have to make sure the common areas are in good order, safe to use and well lit.

It's important to note that you are only under a duty to carry out such repairs if you have knowledge of them, and that knowledge doesn't have to come from the tenant. So, yes - if a neighbour tells you there's a pipe hanging off the house, you would need to fix it.

Tenant Default Repairing Responsibilities

  • Take proper care of the property as a good tenant
  • Make good any damage to the property wilfully or negligently caused by themselves or anyone else lawfully living in or lawfully visiting the property (yes, that includes damage done by drunken revellers if your tenant has a party that gets out of hand!)
  • Keep the interior of the property in reasonable decorative order
  • Not carry out any alterations to the property without the landlord's permission (however you are required not to withhold permission for reasonable alterations)

You have a right to check what state your property is in. Being mindful of their right to quiet enjoyment of their flat or house (it is their home of course), your tenant must permit you or anyone authorised by you to have access to inspect the property and carry out any works you're duty bound to do.

This does need to be at reasonable times and after a reasonable period of notice - usually at least 24 hours but it's best to give as much notice as possible and it's good practice to do it in writing where possible and practicable.

You can apply for a court order to gain access if the tenant for whatever reason prevents it, but it's worthwhile noting that any damage caused to the property or anything in it while exercising your right to gain entry will be your responsibility to repair.


I hope this has been another useful little cut-out-and-keep guide. If you have any follow-up questions or anything else you would like to ask about renting property to tenants, drop me a line to