When it comes to maintenance and repairs, staying compliant (and within the bounds of the law) can be a contentious issue. Most of the rules around repairs are based on the interpretation of laws and statutes, rather than concrete legalities, making it easy for landlords – and letting agents – to get confused about what their responsibilities really are. And one of the major pain points centres around providing an adequate response to any repairs report.
Although most landlords know that 2015’s Deregulation Act requires that they respond to any complaint or disrepair within 14 days, some are still unaware that this response needs to be made in writing or that failure to do so means a landlord will not be able to issue a Section 21 eviction notice within six months and tenants may also seek legal action. There’s also a lack of clarity about what actually constitutes an adequate response. So, other than answering – in writing – within the prescribed time period, what should agents and their landlords do to ensure they’re staying compliant on this issue?
Make sure all communication leaves an audit trail
This is not a situation that can be dealt with over the phone. Make sure all your correspondence is:
- in writing
- date and time stamped
This is a situation that benefits from a repairs and maintenance software system. Fixflo’s software will automatically save, file and collate all of your client correspondence, as well as time and date stamping it so you have the facts to hand in case of any dispute
Capture the right information
When it comes to resolving repairs, the more information you have, the better. If you’re trying to fix an appliance without the relevant model or manufacturer details or resolve a repair without comprehensive details of the issue, it’s going to delay the process and risk your compliance. Again, using a repairs and maintenance software system like Fixflo allows tenants to detail their issues by clicking on the relevant pictures, upload photographs if necessary and guarantees them an instant written response, easing their concerns and representing the landlords’ responsibilities.
Ask for permission to inspect a property
You may be there to address an issue but you still need to give your tenant 24 hours’ notice that you intend to visit.
Don’t sit on the problem
Landlords are expected not just to reply within the time frame, but also to demonstrate they’re taking appropriate measures to rectify it. It’s not enough just to respond to a repair, you need to react to it too.
More clarification is expected in the form of the dreaded GDPR and the Fitness for Human Habitation Bill, but in the meantime, when it comes to compliance, it’s better to err on the side of caution. For more information on these issues, check out our free eBook How Can Property Managers Ensure Compliance when Handling Repairs?.