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What is acting in a tenant-like manner?

The term ‘tenant-like manner’ comes from the judgement of Lord Denning in Warren v Keen back in 1953.

The tenant must take proper care of the place. He must, if he is going away for the winter, turn off the water and empty the boiler; he must clean the chimneys when necessary and also the windows; he must mend the electric light when it fuses; he must unstop the sink when it is blocked by his waste. In short, he must do the little jobs around the place which a reasonable tenant would do. In addition, he must not, of course, damage the house wilfully or negligently… but apart from such things, if the house falls into disrepair through fair wear and tear or lapse of time or for any reason not caused by him, the tenant is not liable to repair it.

Lord Denning

Basically, it means that there will be certain things that you as a tenant will need to do as part of your normal occupancy of any property. This would include things such as:

* Changing light-bulbs/batteries in smoke detectors.

* Re-pressurising a combi-boiler having been given instruction on how to do so.

(Although if this is a recurrent problem, you should make sure your landlord gets a plumber in to look at it).

* Unblocking your own toilets/sinks.

* Mowing lawns and keeping the gardens tidy (unless explicitly catered for in the tenancy agreement)

Generally, things that we just need to accept as part of ‘everyday life’.

It is regrettable that some tenants and some landlords too, don’t really understand their responsibilities. However, fortunately, most people are in fact very reasonable and seem to understand when these issues are pointed out.

As letting agents we see both sides of the coin, but of course, some times when a tenant has an issue, they will forget that we are there to represent the landlord. This can lead a tenant to believe that we are somehow against them but in fact we are not, we are just a go-between.

Which brings us back to a ‘Tenant Like Manner’. In the end, it all comes down to people and behaviour. Some folks who own their own homes will treat them like pig-stys, and tenants sometimes treat their homes as palaces to be revered. Its all down to that great big mix we call ‘life’. All landlords want is for the property to be respected and looked after. They don’t expect to be charged for call outs to change fuses, bulbs and the like. The issue about the combi-boiler is one where there is a lot of disagreement even among lettings professional and is one that will run and run.

I guess the question you should ask yourself before you phone your agent and ask for a call out is.. would I call someone in and pay for it if this was my house?

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