What are my rights regarding repairs?

Question from Kathryn updated on 4th March 2009:

What are my rights as a landlord if my tenant provides false information about repairs? For several months my tenant has asked that I call out an electrician as she has had several light bulbs blow in the house. I explained to her that this is normal and suggested better quality bulbs. This did not satisfy the tenant, so I then consulted my electrician. He gave me a report with the common causes of blown bulbs and again recommended better bulbs if she was not satisfied, he also advised that blown light bulbs did not by themselves indicate that anything needed repairing. After passing this information along to the tenant I was then informed that one of the kitchen lights had stopped working and I had 10 days to get it fixed or we would be off to the tribunal. My electrician went out to the house and charged me for two hours labour plus travel to replace five light bulbs. He could find no fault. Is there anything I can do?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Responsibility for replacement of light bulbs is not specifically covered by the Residential Tenancies Act, and may depend on the circumstances of each case. In general, my advice is to make it clear at the start of the tenancy which party will be responsible for replacing light bulbs. I suggest that you talk to the tenant to see if an agreement can be reached as to who will pay the cost of the repair person in this case, and to agree how to manage this in future. If you and your tenant can’t agree, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to resolve the matter. To discuss your situation further, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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