Boilers, heating and hot water: What are landlords’ legal responsibilities?

Warm tenants make for happy tenants. What’s more, landlords have a legal responsibility under the 1985 Tenancy Act “to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water.”

Faulty boilers and plumbing can cause serious problems for landlords. In fact, damage caused by escape of water (usually a result of frozen pipes) is our number one property damage claim. 34 per cent of all claims paid out since 2008 were for escape of water, which is two and a half times higher than the next most common claim type.

When it comes to boilers, heating and hot water, it isn’t always easy to know who’s responsible for what. Landlords may be responsible for ensuring that the heating is operational, but who’s responsible for bleeding radiators?

These grey areas can lead to confusion and even disputes around what landlords need to do to make sure they’re holding up their end of the tenancy agreement. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the landlord and tenants’ responsibilities when it comes to boilers, heating, hot water and fireplaces.

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Boilers

Boilers, heating and hot water: what are landlords’ legal responsibilities?

Landlord’s responsibilities

Landlords are responsible for making sure that the boiler in the property is serviced on an annual basis. You’re also responsible for making sure that the person you get to do the servicing has the proper qualifications and certification. And you should ask for a copy of the safety certificate and keep it on record, this record should show:

  • The appliances that were tested
  • The results of the assessment
  • Any issues or repair work that are required
  • The engineer’s name and contact details
  • The name and address of the property and its landlord

It’s also important to make sure that the engineer gives the boiler a thorough going over. This will commonly include:

  • Ensuring that the controls that you use to operate the boiler are working
  • That gas and water pressure are at typical levels
  • That all internal components or parts are in working order and don’t show signs of damage or wear
  • That the flue and combustion release are clear and not blocked
  • That all seals are watertight and that there are no signs of rusting that may indicate a leak
  • That all electrical connections are secure

Find out more about the top five boiler problems and how to solve them.

 

Tenant’s responsibilities

While the landlord is responsible for making sure that the boiler is in good working order, the tenant is responsible for using it in the right way and reporting any faults or issues quickly.

This includes making sure that the property maintains a minimum temperature of 12°C – 15°C  in order to prevent the pipes from bursting. Simple maintenance like re-pressuring the boiler is also the tenant’s responsibility and any issues that are caused by intentional or accidental misuse of the boiler are the fault of the tenant.

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Heating

Boilers, heating and hot water: what are landlords’ legal responsibilities?

Landlord’s responsibilities

Landlords are responsible for making sure that the entire heating system is operational and sufficient to keep the property warm throughout the winter.

The minimum acceptable standards are to be able to maintain at least 18°C in sleeping rooms and 21°C in living rooms when the temperature outside is minus 1°C.

While the UK climate is considered temperate by global standards, British winters can still be fatally cold and cause a range of health risks and illnesses.

As a result, landlords who fail to provide adequate heating systems can be found guilty of causing major health risks for their tenants and taken to court.

Tenant’s responsibilities

Similarly to the boiler, the tenant is responsible for using the heating system in an appropriate way and reporting any issues quickly.

If the heating systems are misused or damaged, for instance by someone sitting on a radiator, this is the fault of the tenant and they will be eligible to pay for the repairs.

Boilers, heating and hot water: what are landlords’ legal responsibilities?