Who’s responsible for a blocked gutter?!

by Readers Question

9:36 AM, 30th May 2013
About 8 years ago

Who’s responsible for a blocked gutter?!

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Who’s responsible for a blocked gutter?!

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

10:11 AM, 2nd June 2013
About 7 years ago

This would be the landlords responsibility.

Industry Observer

13:27 PM, 2nd June 2013
About 7 years ago

Craig

Why?

If fences arenm't even Landlord responsibility you can be sure leaves happening to land in a gutter are not.

Tom Thumb

15:33 PM, 2nd June 2013
About 7 years ago

Craig - can you explain your reasoning, please?

Industry Observer - surely fences ARE the LL's responsibility?!

Thanks, both.

Mark Alexander

15:46 PM, 2nd June 2013
About 7 years ago

Now that is interesting as I thought fences were a landlords responsibility too it they were shown as belonging to the landlord by T bar marks on the plans.

It would be good if we could get a deposit protection adjudicator to comment here, does anybody know one they could invite to take a look at this thread please?

9:26 AM, 3rd June 2013
About 7 years ago

I think that everybody is getting confused! It is not automatically the tenant's responsiblity to maintain anything unless it is expressly stated in the tenancy agreement. In regards maintenance liability, there is usually an express term for the tenant to clean the windows and keep the gardens neat and tidy etc, etc, but otherwise it is not the tenant's responsibility to do any of these things. If it were, surely the state of the gutters and even the drains for that matter would need to be quantified on an inventory at the start of the tenancy.

What there is though, is an implied term in every tenancy for the tenant to behave in a tenantlike manner. This means, that if they notice, for example, a roof tile fall off the roof which subsequently lets water in from which further damanges could flow, they should take measures to ensure as little damage is caused as possible but it is not their overall responsibility to fix it. It is what is called natural wear and tear.

I have not studied this area recently and, therefore, am not aware of any recent case-law that would infer that maintenance of the structure of the property is the tenant's responsibility and, on this basis, I would still maintain that it is the Landlord's responsibility unless it is expressly referred to in the agreement.

Industry Observer

10:21 AM, 3rd June 2013
About 7 years ago

Carmen

Trust me you are wrong.

It may end up with an argument, and it may be better for the LL to do it first time round, and to make allowances if it is going to be a regular occurence, but that is up to the LL to offer, not the tenant to dictate or demand.

It is an incidence of occupancy and covered by Warren v Keen 1954.

It has to be tenant responsibility, otherwise putting it in the agreement would make no difference as if not enforceable waste of paper and ink.

My last word on this subject - tenant liability but sensible to negotiate it if thought to be a problem. I have lived in my house for 25 years and never had problems with leaves in gutters - the birds chucking the moss out yes!!

Mark - there is a County Court case on fences King v Northants DC 1992 case was mainly about responsibility to maintain an access path, but fences were also discussed and decided upon - LL liablity

Tom Thumb

10:24 AM, 3rd June 2013
About 7 years ago

Thanks, Carmen King.

Having now scoured the interweb for thee answer, I find there doesn't appear to be one. Opinions are roughly divided 50:50 - with no definitive citing of any law. Good grief!

I have looked at: Lanlordzone.co, yahoo answers, Citizen's Advice, MoneySavingExpert, oft.gov.uk, nidirect.gov, tenanyagreementservices, as well as a multitude of forums....

The main problem seems to be in discriminating between what is governed as 'repair' and what is 'cleaning'/'care'/'upkeep'.

For instance, nidirect.gov.uk states quite clearly that the Tenant is responsible for "cleaning gully traps" but does not mention 'Gutters' specifically, and goes on to further state that the Landlord is responsible for "outside repair work involving involving structural repairs to walls... roofs, chimneys, valleys, gutters, downpipes and house drains (excluding cleaning of gullies)" - but neatly avoids saying whether that includes the CLEANING of gutters!

Jeepers.

Arguments beyond that seem to fall neatly one way or the other depending on whether you are a Tenant or a LL...

I have to say that it is now swaying me towards it being the landlord's responsibility more than the Tenant's, so my opinion is changing from what it was earlier.

It looks as tho' this is something which should be SPECIFIED in the AST agreement?

Industry Observer

10:35 AM, 3rd June 2013
About 7 years ago

For goodness' sake it is tenant responsibility.

ss11-16 clearly lay out what the Landlord is responsible for and that is it.

Volunteer and agree by all means but it is tenant responsibility.

Carmen are you a L&T Law solicitor what authority do you have for your opinion please?

Industry Observer

10:40 AM, 3rd June 2013
About 7 years ago

Craig and Carmen

Craig - L&T 1985 sopecifies what is LL ressponsibility in terms of maintenance of structure and fabric. Fences are not part of "the property" - King v Northants DC 1992

Carmen - you are totally wrong in your statement

"It is not automatically the tenant’s responsiblity to maintain anything unless it is expressly stated in the tenancy agreement. In regards maintenance liability, there is usually an express term for the tenant to clean the windows and keep the gardens neat and tidy etc, etc, but otherwise it is not the tenant’s responsibility to do any of these things. If it were, surely the state of the gutters and even the drains for that matter would need to be quantified on an inventory at the start of the tenancy."

It is a clear implied term at Common Law and as per Warren v Keen 1954. If you specified everything the tenant had to do the agreement would be 70 pages long.

Louis Parker

13:16 PM, 3rd June 2013
About 7 years ago

With regard to gutter cleaning,
If the gutters are not cleaned there is a danger to damage the fabric of the building by water ingress.
now a while back I was called to a property which had had water ingress around the back door frame and it was due to the gutters above not being cleared water tracking down the wall damaging pointing and rotting the wood frame.
This had clearly been a problem for some time due to the damage done but not reported the property was managed and the old tenants had left the new ones reported the problem shortly after moving in.
I would say the following if when the property is inspected a problem like this is found on my own property I would clean out the gutter to save further damage It just makes sense to maintain the property in good order tenants may not have access to a ladder surly an amount could be built into the rent to cover such maintenance after all what are we talking here £40 once a year

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