Who’s responsible for a blocked gutter?!

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Who's responsible for a blocked gutter?!Is there a definitive list of what is the landlord’s responsibility and what the tenant should be expected to do as routine care?

It’s pretty obvious on who’s responsibility most repairs fall on, but something like a roof gutter that gets blocked each year by falling leaves – as they do on every other house in the neighbourhood?

As the landlord in this case, I have arranged a handyman to go out and sort it, but it has left me wondering where the ‘line’ is.

Thoughts?

Thanks.

Eric Shuster

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Comments

  • Hi Eric

    The short answer, in my opinion, is this is the tenants responsibility.

    Our Guest columnist Glenn Ackroyd wrote an very useful piece on tenants responsibilities which should go a long way to answering your question in terms of proving a comprehensive list.

    Please see >>> http://www.property118.com/tenants-repairing-responsibilities/32591/


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  • I am surprised Mark says it is the tenants responsibility, this is something I as the landlord would undertake especially if the height of the gutter was more than I storey high. If the gutter is not cleared it will only get worse and will cause further damage to the property.


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  • Carmen King says:

    s11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 is the Act that you need to consider as it specifically imposes repairing obligations on Landlords of tenancy under a term of 7 years.

    Under this Act the Landlord must keep in repair the structure and exterior (amongst other things). s11(1)(a) makes it clear the definition of structure and exterior includes drains, gutters and external pipes.

    There is, of course, a distinct separation between keeping something in repair and improving it. For example ‘keep in repair’ does not cover inherent defects by design fault or bad workmanship. If the gutters have run into disrepair, then you, as the Landlord, are responsible for putting it back in good repair.

    Hope this clears it up…

    Carmen King


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  • Neil says:

    Definately the tenants responsibility….if Landlord needs to instruct costs should be recharged to tenant


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  • This is definitely tenant liability, it isa an incidence of occupancy of a property same as for an owner occupier. Warren v Keen 1954 is the Case Law that pre-dated the L&T 1985, the Statute which says Landlords are resonsible for the structure and fabric. That means repair if the gutter or downpipes collape, not leaf clearance.

    ARLA used to say (many years ago) that it was Landlord but changed their mind about 15 years ago.


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  • @Carmen King – I accept that you are quoting section of the act but we definitely interpret it differently. If the gutters were hanging off or the windows were falling out I accept that would be the responsibility of the landlord to repair. However, in the same way as a landlord can not be expected to clean the tenants windows, neither can the landlord be expected to clean the tenants gutters out for him.


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  • UPDATE – in all of my comments above I have assumed the landlord is the person letting to the tenant under an AST as opposed to being the owner of a freehold of a block of flats. In the latter case the freeholder may well be responsible for organising the cleaning of gutters and charging this back to the leaseholders in accordance with the service charge agreement.


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  • @ Carmen

    I hear what you say, but Mark is correct it is no duty of the LL to go around and clear out the gutters. They may offer to, they may feel obliged to if the tenant is an 85 year old Granny, but they are not obliged to.

    Structure and fabric as per the 1985 Act means where Mark is coming from – the property being wind and watertight, walls and roof, windows and doors and so on.

    There have been Small Claims Court decisions on this in favour of the LL typically following deposit deductions pre TDP. Given the barmy adjudications you get these days I hesitate to venture what would happen in a dispute over gutter clearance.

    Mind if the Adjudicator finds in the tenant’s favour that doesn’t mean they are interopreting the Law correctly


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  • Thanks everyone for your replies.

    That seems pretty clear, then (unlike the gutter…)

    Yes, it’s an AST and is handled by a local letting agent as this is a new thing to us, and involves only one property. (I know, I know – the letting agent should have been more clear about this situation too…)

    My initial thoughts were that the LL was liable, but then I started to think about where the line would be drawn if this were the case – would I need to unblock his sink?! Or a leaf-blocked surface-water gulley which is causing water to flood over the path? It seems pretty clear to me now that it is the tenant’s responsibility; the house itself, being only a few years old, is in excellent order, so no issues there.

    I have arranged – and will pay – for this to be cleared in this instance as it’s quite possible that there were already some leaves in the gutter when the tenants moved in a few months back, but will tactfully let them know that it’s their responsibility from now on.

    Many thanks.


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  • Eric

    When you let them know make sure that is in writing, and acknowledged.

    The surface water gulley/drain covers at ground level should already be stated in the agreement as tenant responsibility.


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