Washers – who has to change them?

The Standard Residential Tenancy Terms set out your responsibility to look after the property. Clause 63 states that you should take reasonable care of the property, keep it reasonably clean with regards to the condition of the property at the time you started to live there, and the normal every day use of the property. You are responsible for the normal every day things a tenant would do like changing a light bulb and you must ensure that you don’t negligently or intentionally damage the property.

However clauses 54 and 55 of the SRTT state that the landlord also has an obligation to provide the property in a reasonable state at the start of your tenancy, as well as maintain the property in a reasonable state of repair throughout the time that you live there.

Essentially replacing the washers is the responsibility of the landlord. This is because replacing washers falls under the landlord’s general obligation to maintain the property. Additionally it is not reasonable for you as a tenant to replace the washers as they often cannot be installed without specialist equipment and turning off the water supply to the building. Finally, there is no way to determine when or how washers will wear out and you are not responsible to repair damage which has not been negligently or intentionally caused by you.

However the issue is not clear cut, there have been some cases where Tribunals will say it is the responsibility of the landlord, or the tenant or a combination of the two. The outcome in your case will depend on how much effort you want to put into negotiating the issue with your agent/landlord.

For further information, read our factsheet on repairs or call the Tenants’ Advice Service. You can also find a sample letter to agents/landlords which addresses repairs issues here.

Reviewed: 3/12/13

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