Who’s responsible for a blocked gutter?!

by Readers Question

9:36 AM, 30th May 2013
About 6 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



Comments

Tom Thumb

21:37 PM, 3rd June 2013
About 6 years ago

Louis, many thanks for your thoughts.

I have to say, though, that what you say largely appears to be based on opinion only - however reasoned - and not necessarily on what the law says or implies. Much of what you say is also what I've read on numerous forums, but - again - is surely only 'opinion'?

For instance, you state that an overflowing gutter could cause damage to a property. Of course it could, but that in itself doesn't suggest it's now the LL's duty more than the Tenant's. I mean, if a SURFACE water gully were to block, this could also cause damage to the property, and it's ABSOLUTELY clear whose responsibility that is.

You also remark that the Tenant might not have access to a ladder. Well, nor do many LLs! Most LLs would employ someone to do this task, and so would most Tenants if it were their responsibility - no-one is suggesting that they personally should clean it out.(For instance, most Tenants would clean their own windows as it's a straight-forward task with modern accessible windows, but my Tenant is happy to pay for a window cleaner to clean their windows seemingly every month or so.)

Yes, it isn't a huge amount - in this case it came to £60. But, due to the large amount of surrounding trees in the area, it's likely to be at LEAST an annual task. And, in any case, I'd just like to know. For sure!

Tom Thumb

21:45 PM, 3rd June 2013
About 6 years ago

Industry Observer, where can I find the sections 'ss11-16' you refer to?

Thanks.

Industry Observer

22:15 PM, 3rd June 2013
About 6 years ago

Eric

Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

Tom Thumb

8:34 AM, 4th June 2013
About 6 years ago

Thanks, Industry Observer.

Tbh, I cannot see anything there that clarifies this matter for me, I'm afraid.

1B does mention "...failure to maintain in working order..." as part of the LL's remit for repair & maintenance and, at face value, doesn't that suggest that it IS the LL's responsibility to also CLEAN the gutters since to not do so would render them effectively inoperable - no longer in 'working order'?

It still seems to be a vague area. Can you point me to where it might more specifically state where the cleaning of gutters fall in this repair remit?

11:41 AM, 4th June 2013
About 6 years ago

What if the blockage is caused by dilapidation?

Robert M

16:03 PM, 4th June 2013
About 6 years ago

Houses need to be maintained. There are little repair jobs that need doing. Examples include blocked sinks, replacing light bulbs, replacing smoke detector batteries and cleaning gutters.

Now I would expect most normal tenants to replace light bulbs and unblock a sink. I would also expect that most would accept these are routine matters. Moving on, I would also expect tenants to be responsible for the back up batteries in smoke detectors. Clearing leaves from gutters is also normally a tenant's liability. If they fall in the garden the tenant should clear them up, if they fall on his car he won't ring me up.

Therefore, provided the gutters remain correctly attached and do not leak at the joints then the tenant should arrange this.*

However, the problem with mains operated smoke detectors is they can be very difficult to replace the batteries and tenants often damage them doing so. For this reason (and because in me experience dead tenants don't pay the rent or give a month's notice) you may decide to replace batteries yourself.

Similarly, a blocked gutter can cause a lot of damage inside the house, so landlords may well decide to have the gutters cleared out themselves. How about fitting some of that plastic gauze to stop leaves dropping in?

* People in the office think I am demented when I point out its raining hard and an ideal time to whizz round the houses to inspect them from the outside.

Tom Thumb

21:12 PM, 4th June 2013
About 6 years ago

Lynne East, if the blockage is caused by dilapidation, then it's the LL's responsibility to sort - surely no question there?

That is not the case here, tho' - it's nearby trees. All the house in the 'hood suffer from this.

Robert, yes houses need to be maintained, and there may well be certain things you'd 'expect' the Tenants to do, as well a list of things they are definitely responsible for.

But I still have no definitive answer to where the cleaning of gutters lies in this mix!

Yes, blocked gutters can cause greater damage to a property, but this - in itself - doesn't determine who is responsible for keeping them clean.

So, I still don't know!

Robert M

13:56 PM, 5th June 2013
About 6 years ago

Eric

I think this thread has clearly given you all the answers you need.

It is the tenant's responsibility, assuming that at the start of the tenancy the gutters were running reasonably.

However, you might assume that the job is too important to leave to them.

Tom Thumb

21:52 PM, 5th June 2013
About 6 years ago

Robert, I am honestly not trying to be either awkward or pedantic. But I can't see the answer anywhere on this thread.

By that I mean, a link to an official document that makes it clear that the Tenant is responsible for cleaning gutters. All there is is 'comment' and 'opinion'.

Not even the Landlord and Tenant Act.

Industry Observer

7:58 AM, 6th June 2013
About 6 years ago

Eric

I sail away on holiday on Sunday so this is my last post on this thread, I will click not to notify me of any more posts. Because you are being awkward and pedantic.

Do you believe in God? Many do - but you can neither prove nor disprove his existence.

Authorities, there are two

Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 ss11-16 clarify specifically what a Landlord is responsible for - keeping the property wind and watertight, the structure and the fabric.

If the gutters become blocked with leaves and cause damage to the property, that is permissive waste and not allowing that is an implied term in all tenancies. As is an allowance for fair wear and tear - but you won't find that staed anywhere in Statute either.

Second authority is Warren v Keen 1954 which is still the classic statement by Lord Denning on the tenant's responsibilities to comply with their obligation to "act in a tenant like manner".

The tenancy agreement should have a clause that deals with blockages of all manners and caused by all incidents. Same goesd for gully drain etc - but only for emphasis.

It is clearly tenant responsibility, and I utterly fail to see why you cannot (or will not) accept that.

Fair enough don't and bear the costs you don't need to.

End of contributions - life is too short.

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