Maintenance and repairs in a rented apartment are divided between the landlord and the tenant by the Civil Code and other legislation. One of the most frequent questions addressed by dTest’s consumer advice service concerns the obligation to have a gas boiler inspected and paid for. When does this obligation lie with the landlord and when with the tenant? What about the inspection and cleaning of the flue or boiler? And why is it advisable not to neglect inspections?
The Civil Code requires the landlord to keep the rented apartment in a fit condition for use. However, it also provides that it is the tenant who carries out and pays for routine maintenance and minor repairs in the apartment. What all falls under the term routine maintenance and minor repairs is specified in a separate government regulation by listing specific activities and financial limits.
The landlord’s obligations include, but are not limited to, properly carrying out inspections of the gas boiler. However, a distinction must be made between boiler inspections and boiler servicing. “The boiler shall normally be inspected by a qualified boiler inspection engineer on commissioning. Its purpose is to check that the boiler is properly connected and to prevent gas leaks. In contrast, service inspections are carried out by a service engineer who checks that the gas boiler is working properly and carries out maintenance such as lubrication, cleaning or adjustments. The tenant is obliged to arrange and pay for the service check,” explains Eduarda Hekšová, director of the consumer organisation dTest, adding: “The lease agreement may regulate the care of the apartment differently from the law, but it must not curtail the tenant’s rights, i.e. impose more obligations than the law.”
While legal entities are required to conduct gas boiler inspections every three years and service inspections once a year, there is no set frequency for individuals. However, both inspections and servicing may be a condition for the acceptance of a claim for a gas boiler or for the payment of insurance benefits in the event of a claim under property and household insurance. Not to mention that failure to carry them out can result in property damage or bodily injury. Therefore, it can only be recommended to carry out boiler inspections and servicing not only in a rented flat within the above mentioned time limits applicable to legal entities.
Tied in with gas boiler inspections is flue inspection and cleaning, which is mandatory for households once a year. If the flues are part of the dwelling, the tenant is required to inspect and clean them, again the inspections are the responsibility of the landlord. “However, maintenance of, for example, a boiler should not be forgotten. A leaking boiler can increase water consumption by tens of thousands of crowns a year. According to the law, the tenant should ensure its control,” says Eduarda Hekšová.
Because the terms review and inspection may merge, it is a good idea to address these responsibilities in the lease agreement. Regardless of how the law or the lease divides maintenance and repairs in the apartment between the landlord and the tenant, we recommend that the tenant regularly inspect the apartment’s furnishings, as the landlord often has no way of detecting the existence of defects and the tenant may be liable for any damages if they are not reported. In addition, although it is the landlord’s responsibility to purchase a new gas boiler if the old one breaks down, the landlord could require the tenant to pay part of the cost of the boiler if they neglect to maintain it.
There have also been cases where the poor condition of a gas boiler has resulted in a carbon monoxide leak resulting in the death of the tenant. The criminal courts then have to decide whether the landlord was negligent homicide. “Even the courts themselves admit that the answer to the question of who is obligated to maintain the boiler in proper condition in a particular case is not simple. However, any verdict of the court cannot bring back a wasted life, which the landlord should remember and rather control the tenant’s performance of his obligations,” concludes Eduarda Hekšová.