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The Landlords Guide to Boilers

Tenants left in the cold aren’t going to be making happy tenants. Moreover, the 1985 Tenancy Act, states that landlords have a legal responsibility to repair and keep hot water and heating in proper working order.

More pressing is the fact that broken boilers are one of the most common reasons for property damage and insurance claims from landlords. Typically, this is related to water damage from a boiler leaking water, usually occurring during the winter months due to frozen pipes.

So, when it comes to heating and hot water, who exactly is responsible, the tenant or the landlord? The reality is that it isn’t always straightforward, which is why it’s a common area for confusion and the raising of disputes.

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the key responsibilities of landlords and tenants, when concerning boilers, heating, hot water and fireplaces.

Landlords Responsibilities on Boilers  

Landlords have a legal responsibility to ensure their properties boiler is serviced annually. You are also required to ensure this is carried about by a registered Gas Safe Engineer; therefore, it’s important to ask to see their credentials. Once the service is completed, it’s prudent to keep a copy of the certificate for your records.

The safety certificate should include the following information:

  • The appliance that’s been tested i.e. the boiler.
  • The results i.e. pass or fail.
  • Any repairs that need to be carried out.
  • The registered engineer’s details.
  • The property address and landlords details.

During the service, the engineer will carry out the following tasks:

  • Examine the venting and check for visible faults.
  • Check the pipework, ensuring they are free from holes and leaks.
  • Visually inspect air outlet and intakes, ensuring they are free from blockages.
  • Test the control settings and digital interface.
  • Test safety mechanisms, ensuring they are operating as required.
  • Thoroughly clean the system and remove any visible dirt.
  • Examine electrical wiring and connections.
  • Examine the boilers water for irregularities.
  • Carry out a final test once all tasks are completed.

Tenants Responsibilities 

Although the landlord is responsible for major maintenance of the boiler and ensuring that it remains in good working order, the tenant has a responsibility to ensure they are using it correctly and to report any boiler problems at the earliest opportunity.

Essentially, this means ensuring the properties temperature is maintained in order to prevent freezing. Since boilers tend to gradually lose pressure, it’s also expected that the tenant will re-pressurize the boiler when required.

The tenant is also responsible for any boiler issues that result as a consequence of misuse.

Other Benefits of Boiler Maintenance 

As well as the legal requirements and the obvious need to keep your tenant happy, there some other key reasons why keeping your boiler well maintained is so important, these include:

  • Warranty validation – most major boiler manufacturers stipulate that an annual boiler service must be carried out as a condition of keeping the warranty valid. Without one, you will be responsible for any repairs or mechanical faults that occur, which would have been taken care of free of charge with a valid warranty.
  • Save money – taking care of minor issues is much more financially wise, than waiting for them to get worse and develop into major, expensive repairs, or worse require a complete boiler replacement. A well-maintained boiler will also run as its optimum efficiency, helping to reduce fuel wastage and save money on heating bills.
  • Safety – it’s no secret that gas boilers utilise a fossil fuel that is highly flammable and during combustion create harmful fumes such as carbon monoxide. For these reasons, it’s vital that the boiler is regularly checked for leaks, so they can be dealt with before they cause harm.

What about the Heating System? 

Just like boiler maintenance, landlords have certain responsibilities concerning heating, essentially being responsible for ensuring they are in good working order i.e. keeping the property warm throughout the year.

The minimum standards state that the property must be able to maintain at least 18°C in bedrooms and 21°C in living rooms when the outside temperature is below 1°C.

Even though the UK climate is considerate to be mild on a global scale, winters can be extremely harsh and temperatures can plummet, which can have detrimental effects on health.

Due to this, landlords who fail to meet these standards and maintain a properly working heating system can potentially be found guilty of causing their tenant’s health risks and in some cases summoned to court.

What are the tenant’s responsibilities? 

Just like the boiler in the property, tenants are responsible for using the heating system as intended and alerting you of any problems as soon as they are noticed.

If the system has been accidentally misused or purposely, then they are responsible for the fault and required to pay for the repair.

Who should bleed the radiators? 

Over time air can build up within the radiators, preventing the hot water from flowing through the radiators and leading to cold spots. Bleeding the radiators is considered a standard part of heating system maintenance.

Due to this, it’s typically considered the landlord’s responsibility to ensure they are bled before the start of the tenancy begins and during the tenancy period, the tenant’s responsibility.

With that said, the reality is that many tenants won’t know how to bleed a radiator; so many landlords continue to do it throughout the tenancy.

Here is a useful guide on bleeding radiators.

What about hot water? 

Landlords are responsible for making sure their tenants have access to hot water at all times. This does not just cover the boiler, but means ensuring all plumbing is in proper working order, including access to hot was is available in the bathrooms and kitchen.

The complete loss of hot water access in the property is considered an emergency and should be dealt with immediately.

What are the tenant’s responsibilities? 

Similar to the boiler, the tenant is responsible for proper use of the hot water outlets and reporting any issues as soon as they occur, including leaks.

In fact, since leaks have such a propensity to cause damage, it’s worth making it clear at the start of the tenancy just how important reporting leaks are, even minor leaks, which can quickly develop into something more severe.


What about fireplaces? 

The fireplace is another tricky issue as the rules aren’t always straightforward; however, the legal consensus seems to be that landlords are responsible for ensuring the fireplace and chimney are in proper working order.

Any repairs are also the responsibility of the landlord.

What are the tenant’s responsibilities? 

Tenants are responsible for properly using the fireplace, meaning keeping flammable objects away from it and using a fireguard where necessary. Tenants are also responsible for keeping the chimney maintained once the tenancy has started.

Final Words 

You must be aware of your legal responsibilities and take the necessary steps to ensure you are fulfilling them. However, it’s also important to ensure that they are accurately represented within your tenancy agreement.

If it isn’t stipulated within your official tenancy agreement and a dispute does occur, you may find your legal basis is compromised.

Boilers are no doubt an expensive commitments. Costs for equipment and installation are in the thousands. Once of the most popular choices for landlords owning smaller properties is to buy combi boilers on finance. Finance omits the need for the landlord to commit a huge lumpsum payment and instead spread the costs overtime


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