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Landlord plumbing responsibilities

Who’s responsible if the drains become blocked or the toilet leaks in your tenanted property? Read on to find out.

With so many sanitary fixtures and fittings in a property, not to mention pipes and drains, it can be confusing knowing where the land lies when things go wrong. So what are a landlord’s plumbing responsibilities and what falls to the tenant to fix and maintain?

In this post, we’ll look at the typical sanitary conveniences in a property (sinks, baths, toilets, pipes, and drains), and outline who’s responsible should you be faced with a blocked sink, burst pipe, or dripping tap in your rental property.

Landlord plumbing responsibilities

Leaking pipe under the sink

Legally, a landlord must provide tenants with running water and sanitation fittings in order to use it. This includes pipes and drains.

Therefore a tenanted property must have:

  • A working toilet
  • A shower or a bathroom
  • At least one sink for washing up

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires property owners to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling for the supply of water, gas, electricity, and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths, and sanitary conveniences), but not other fixtures, fittings, and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity.

Let’s look at what that means for some of the most common sanitation ware in a property.

Landlord responsibility for sinks, baths, and toilets

Fixing a toilet seat

It is a landlord’s responsibility to maintain the drainage, pipes, and other areas of plumbing in a tenanted property. A landlord is therefore responsible for repairs to:

  • Sinks
  • Baths
  • Toilets

However, a tenant is liable for the cost of repairs should a drain become blocked due to tenant misuse.

The same applies to the sanitary ware itself. If a sink, bath, or toilet is damaged due to tenant misuse, the tenant is liable for the cost of repair or replacement. If the damage is caused by wear and tear or faulty installation, the responsibility sits with the landlord.

A tenant is responsible for plugs and chains for sinks, baths, and basins.

For a plumber to fix a dripping tap, you’re looking at around £100. A toilet could cost in the region of £110 to put right. On average, a plumber will charge around £50/hr. Take a look at our guide to plumber costs for more information.

Landlord responsibility for pipes and drains

Blocked external drain

Internal pipes

A leaking pipe within the property could be caused by the tiniest of fractures in the pipework or a loose connection. A leaking pipe will present itself as a puddle under the pipework, or damp patches on the walls or ceilings if the pipes are concealed.

Repairs to leaking pipes within the property are the landlord’s responsibility, and for a plumber to fix will cost around £100.

Pipes are also at the mercy of the elements. Cold weather can cause the water within the pipes to freeze, expand, and then burst the pipes.

Should this happen, again, it’s the landlord’s responsibility. This type of job normally costs between £160 – £310 for repairs. As this will likely be an emergency call-out, the cost will be higher, especially if out of hours.

Tip: To prevent flooding and minimise water damage, make sure both landlord and tenant know how to shut off the water supply to the property.

External pipes

The mains pipe (which brings water to the property) will either be the responsibility of the landlord or the water board. In the event of a leaking mains pipe, the landlord should contact the local water board to find out if it’s the water board’s or the landlord’s responsibility to fix it.

If the pipes are the landlord’s responsibility, expect to pay around £235 to fix a leaking pipe. This is dependent on the scale of the repair.

Man clearing a blocked drain using rods


At the tenanted property, the landlord is responsible for clearing blocked:

  • Sewers
  • Drains
  • External waste pipes

A landlord is NOT responsible for road gullies or waste pipes blocked by tenant misuse.

A list of helpful property maintenance costs can be found here.

Landlord responsibility for the boiler and radiators


A landlord is legally required to make sure the boiler is serviced and safe for continued use.

A landlord should instruct a Gas Safe registered engineer to inspect the gas supply and appliances in a rental property at least every 12 months. Take a look at our guide on the landlord responsibilities for the boiler and gas safety for more information


A landlord is also responsible for:

  • Radiators, pipework, fittings, and valves

Should a radiator need fixing, for example, due to a leak, the cost is around £120.

A tenant must never attempt repairs themselves unless the tenancy agreement explicitly states otherwise. A tenant should never feel obligated to undertake repairs that are the landlord’s responsibility.

However, if a tenant’s actions cause damage to the property or adjoining properties, the tenant is responsible for paying to put it right. A good example would be if the tenant leaves a tap running, causing a bath to overflow, damaging the property below. The tenant is responsible for the cost of repair to both properties in this instance.

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Is a clogged toilet the landlord’s responsibility?

This depends on why the toilet is blocked. If it’s due to tenant misuse, the tenant is responsible for the cost of repairs. If it’s due to an issue with the pipes or drains, it could be the landlord’s responsibility.

Is a burst pipe landlord or tenant responsibility?

A burst pipe is normally the landlord’s responsibility.

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