Who is repsonsible for maintanence?

Catherine Murray asks:
(updated on Thursday, February 12th 2009)

I couldn't open the door to my flat, a large sliding door, so called the property manager. He couldn't open the door, so called a lock smith/glazier, who came over and removed a window pane to gain access. He discovered that an old locking mechanism at the bottom of the door had engaged. This is something that we have never used as the door locks with a key. I have disputed this charge with the property manager, and was awaiting his response. But today received an account and demand for payment. My dispute is that the old locking mechanism can only be locked from the inside. And when it is locked you can't open the door. So I can't have locked it and open the door to get out! I don't believe I should be held responsible for this old lock engaging. The glazier himself said it was very loose. I think it just fell and locked when I shut (not slammed) the door that morning. This is about an old lock failing - due to age, approx 30 years, and is the owners responsibility, not mine.

Our Experts Answer:

Landlords are responsible for maintaining the property. If something wears out as the result of normal use, the landlord is responsible for repairing it. Tenants are obliged to tell the landlord about any necessary maintenance, so that the landlord can arrange for repairs to be done. Tenants are usually only responsible for the cost of repairing damage that they or their invited guests carelessly or intentionally caused. If you and your landlord are unable to agree about who will pay the cost of a locksmith/glazier, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to resolve the matter. To discuss your situation further, or for advice and information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, 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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