Washers – who has to change them?

The Standard Residential Tenancy Terms (SRTT)  set out responsibilities to look after the property.

Your responsibility – 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.

You may find that your landlord or the reals estate agent say you have to replace washers in line with this clause, however they are overlooking the landlord’s responsibility.

The landlord’s responsibility – 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 for several reasons:

  • 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;
  • It is your responsibility to not damage the premises and is you are not a trained plumber you are taking a risk that you might cause damage, this is an unreasonable risk for a tenant to take;
  • 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 from different Tribunals across the country will say it is the responsibility of the landlord, or the tenant or a combination of the two. It can come down to an individual Tribunal member’s interpretation of the issue.

The outcome in your case will depend on how much effort you want to put into negotiating the issue with your agent/landlord.

You can use the above points in negotiations, ultimately if you refuse to do the work either they will have to make an application to the Tribunal for an order that you do so, or they could claim you are breach your responsibility under the SRTT; or you could make an application for an order that they do the work.

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: 4/2/2019



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