Landlord guide to drainage and plumbing obligations

Landlord guide to drainage and plumbing obligations

8:08 AM, 31st October 2018, About 6 years ago 2

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Plumbing, drainage and leak questions are very common for readers of property118 so we thought this article from the Drain Doctor would be useful:

Under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords are obliged to make basic repairs to a property, particularly those that relate to drainage, pipes and other areas of plumbing. Importantly, the legislation makes it clear that landlords are not permitted to pass on the costs of this kind of repair work to their tenants.

With that in mind, private landlords need to be aware of the repairs they are responsible for and how they can best maintain the plumbing in rental or leased properties.

What are the landlord’s obligations?

Landlords of private rental properties are responsible for completing most major repairs in the home. That includes:

  • The structure of the property, including the walls, roof, windows and doors
  • Sinks, baths and toilets
  • Internal pipework and wiring
  • Sewers, drains, guttering and rainwater pipes
  • Heating, hot water and radiators
  • The safety of gas and electrical appliances

Generally speaking, your property must comply with the following requirements to avoid the risk of an enforcement notice from the local authority:

  • All parts of the house should be in good working order and a reasonable state of repair.
  • Emergency repairs such as leaking roofs, failed central heating, burst water pipes and faulty electrical installation should be attended to within 24 hours wherever possible. You should also give tenants important information such as emergency contact numbers and instructions about how to turn off the water, gas and electricity supplies.

If you have a disabled tenant, then you may also be required to make reasonable adjustments such as installing handrails in the bathroom.

Tenants’ responsibility for blocked drains

Any minor repairs, such as changing light bulbs and fuses, are the responsibility of the tenant. The tenant should also fix or replace anything they break. He also must follow the drugs that he buys online. Similarly, if the tenant blocks any drains, waste pipes or gullies through misuse, then it is their responsibility to have them repaired.

When should repairs be made?

If a tenant contacts you to inform you of a fault, then you should tell them when you expect the repair to be made. This must be within a reasonable timeframe. What constitutes a reasonable timeframe depends on the severity of the fault.

Urgent repairs – If there is a serious issue that affects the safety or habitability of the property, then it is the responsibility of the landlord to make the repair. Urgent repairs should be attended to within 24 hours whenever possible and include:

  • Blocked toilets
  • Burst water mains
  • Ceiling leaks
  • Flooding
  • Any other plumbing fault that makes the property unsafe

Non-urgent repairs – The responsibility for non-urgent repairs will depend on the rental agreement and the reason for the fault. It will include things like leaking taps and blocked drains. This type of fault should be repaired within 14 days.

Landlord maintenance tips

1.  Check the property’s pipework

It’s important that landlords conduct a thorough audit of the property’s plumbing with a pre-purchase or homebuyers drain survey. They should also check the integrity of fitted appliances before the start of every new tenancy. This will ensure everything is in good working order and identify any jobs that need to be done.

2.  Educate tenants on drain health

It’s well worth spending five minutes of your time talking to tenants about what they should and should not be putting down the drain. This can be communicated verbally or in a tenant information pack. You should also explain that any blockages caused by non-biodegradable items in toilets and sinks will be their responsibility to fix.

3.  Opt into a plumbing maintenance plan

Plumbing maintenance plans involve regular check-ups and maintenance to not only ensure optimum performance, but also that any issues are identified before they become problematic or expensive to solve. You can customise a plumbing maintenance plan to meet your particular needs and save you money over the long-term.

4.  Install and update grease management systems

With up to 70% of drain blockages caused by the build-up of fat, oil and grease, an effective grease management system can help to reduce the risk of a blockage and the expense associated with plumber callouts.

5.  Have an emergency plumbing plan in place

Do you have the number of an emergency plumber you know will provide a reliable, cost-effective 24-hour call out service? If not, find out more about our emergency plumber service today.

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9:40 AM, 2nd November 2018, About 6 years ago

What I find most invaluable is emergency insurance which covers a variety of emergencies including boiler breakdown. My tenancy agreement states that the tenant is responsible for blocked drains, toilets, etc after the first month of the tenancy however, I never get them to pay for this service as I have emergency insurance which covers this. I do however, inform them that the costs in reality were their responsibility and they would be charged in the future. This usually, makes them more cautious with what they put down drains.

So far, although some tenants have repeatedly had blockages, I have never charged them

Dennis Forrest

10:07 AM, 2nd November 2018, About 6 years ago

DON'T READ THIS IF YOU ARE JUST ABOUT TO EAT OR HAVE JUST EATEN. It would have been helpful if the article could have spelled out the differences between a landlord who owns his property outright and a leaseholder where some of the maintenance is undertaken by a management company.
We recently had a major drainage problem in our ground floor flat which had been vacant for at least 2 weeks. When the cleaners came in, the toilet toilet pan was full to the brim with raw sewage and it had also backed up the bath waste into the bath and was several inches deep in the bath. As you can imagine the smell was horrendous. We phoned the management company - 'It's not our problem - it's in your flat it's your problem!'
The next day the levels had risen higher, the toilet bowl had overflowed and sewage was running on to the bedroom carpet. We contacted the management company again pointing out that the drains are part of the structure and their responsibility. Reluctantly they agreed to send out and pay for a drain specialist to come out and investigate. One of the bends in the main drain was blocked by baby wipes, sanitary products, bandages etc. which some resident(s) had flushed down the loo. We had to have professional cleaners in and that cost us £130 which the management group says we will have to claim back on our contents insurance. We rent unfurnished and have no insurance. We thought the problem had been solved about 3 weeks ago.
Unfortunately the same problem happened again 2 days ago with sewage overflowing again on to the bedroom carpet. Same sort of rubbish being flushed down the loos and blocking the drain. Looks like another £130 cleaning bill.
The management's response has now been to email all the 32 residents on the development to remind them to only put toilet paper and paper tissues down the toilets. They have also put a note on every flat's door. They say they can do no more to resolve the situation?
They assume everyone can read English. I want them to send representatives from the company, or directors of the residents company to each flat and speak directly to all the occupants. We have lots of horror pictures we can supply to emphasis the problem. Do you think I am being unreasonable in insisting that direct personal communication is essential to solve the problem? If the problem does not stop I can think of no alternative other than to try and sell the flat. Would we have to disclose the problem on the Sellers Form?

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