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Matt Jones
Matt Jones, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 671
Experience:  I am a qualified and practicing Solicitor with over 7 years post qualification experience
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I currently rent a room with my partner in a property. The

Resolved Question:

I currently rent a room with my partner in a property. The kitchen sink has been blocked for 3 days, and the owners of the flat (who do not live in the property) are refusing to fix it, saying it's our responsibility as tenants.
Could you please clarify whose responsibility this is?
I've read the Landlord and Tenancy Act of 1985, and it seems clear to me that it is the landlord's responsibility, however, I've also read some other information on other websites that seems to contradict this.
Thanks
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Matt Jones replied 2 years ago.
Matt Jones :

Hi I will try and help

Matt Jones :

The Landlord and tenant act stipulates that the Landlord is responsible for keeping the sanity ware in good condition. If the blockage is due to damaged/broken pipework or old pipework that require replacing then this is the landlords responsibility to do. If it is due to foodstuff, grease, etc then this is your responsibility to clean under your covenant to keep the property clean and tidy.

Matt Jones :

I hope this helps. Please ask any follow up questions if you wish.

Customer:

Well, I ask retrospectively, as we had a drainage company eventually come and fix it, and they wrote a report to say that the sink was blocked because of years of build up of lint in the line (from the washing machine), a kitchen waste pipe that is too narrow, and poorly arranged plumbing. So, it sounds like it's not our responsibility?

Customer:

However, it raises the question for me - whose responsibility is it to fix the blockage in the first instance, before responsibility can be assigned?

Matt Jones :

there is no real right answer to that question I am afraid. If the landlords reasonable belief was that it was food stuff then it is perfectly in order for them to claim that this needed to be investigated further before they took responsibly. Of course the cost of the investigation could now be passed to the Landlord if you believed he was at fault.

Customer:

So in order for it to be a resonable belief of the landlord, I imagine there would need to be some evidence that he/she would base their judgement on? In our case, our flat is always kept clean and tidy.

Customer:

So, it would suggest that it is also reasonable for the landlords to fix the problem, then if they retrospectively find it to be the fault of the tenants, to charge them?

Matt Jones :

I think on the face of it the reasonable belief would arise from the facts of the case. A block drain, generally speaking, would be more likely than not caused by food. Just as, for example, was on a window still would be likely caused by condensation then a leaky roof. Once an investigation has taken place, and actually it turns out it is more serious and perhaps a latent defect in the property then this falls to the Landlord under various legal principles to repair (the covenants to repair under the lease, law of Nuisance, etc, and possibly event the Defective Premises Act). of course the Landlord is entitled to obtain his own investigation, and may claim the principle reason is the lint caused by previous tenants, and to a degree , yourselves, but that is an argument for them to advance rather than me to propose.

Customer:

Ok, that's a thorough answer, thank you. It seems the key word here is 'reasonable'. Our landlords have been far from reasonable. They were quite rude and aggressive. We had been up all night trying to fix the blockage with the usual means, such as a plunger, long wire and chemicals. My father, who is a landlord, then warned me not to continue trying, if it didn't unblock the drain, as if any dama

Customer:

ge were caused to the pipes, I would be held personally liable. So, were we acting reasonably to try to unblock the blockage using a plunger and long wire, and were we sensible to stop trying, when it became very clear that the blockage wasn't moving?

Matt Jones :

I think you were acting reasonably, but that is only my opinion. You were clearly using all means at your disposal. Plumbing is always tricky one. Electricity is usually clear, either the light goes on or it doesn't and either its the bulb it isn't. Plumbing is less specific. Usually with something like this I would say that, as you have already investigated and sorted the matter, if the matters persists then continue to notify the Landlord and the likelihood of him being responsible and liable for damages/reduction in rent, increases.

Customer:

Thank you. Seems like it is a quite complicated matter. Many of my friends / family who are landlords say that as a matter of course, they carry out repairs, and then if they consider the repairs necessary due to unreasonable behaviour by the tenants, they charge them for it. To me, that seems like the common sense solution, within reason. Thanks for your help.

Matt Jones :

yes, I agree. That is the most sensible course. But of course you do get some of "those" landlords I am afraid.

Matt Jones :

Hope I have helped .Please leave positive feedback so I can be paid for my time this evening. The question wont close and you can always ask further questions if you think of them later.

Customer:

Yes, you've delivered a very good service, so I'll leave you positive feedback. Good night!

Matt Jones :

good night

Matt Jones, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 671
Experience: I am a qualified and practicing Solicitor with over 7 years post qualification experience
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