Landlords are often accused (sometimes fairly) of renting out properties which are in poor condition. Living in a property which is in disrepair can be distressing for tenants and landlords need to be aware of their contractual duties to keep their properties in repair.
Your tenancy agreement may set out your repairing obligations as a landlord but these can never be less than the obligations which are implied into the tenancy agreement by section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 implies a term into the tenancy agreement. It makes landlords of residential property responsible to keep in repair:
• The structure and exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes).
• The supply of water, electricity and sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary).
• Installations for space heating and water.
The tenancy agreement may impose wider obligations on the landlord but the section 11 repairing requirements cannot be excluded which means that these repairing responsibilities cannot be cancelled out by anything the tenancy agreement says.
If there is a written tenancy agreement, it may set out wider repairing obligations than the section 11 duties. For example, if the agreement states that the landlord will keep the property “in good condition” this probably requires the landlord to do works which would not be required by section 11.
Tenants can force landlords to carry out repairs by applying to court for orders for “specific performance”. They can also seek compensation for distress and inconvenience; any losses or expenses incurred and for injuries suffered as a result of living in properties affected by disrepair.
Any tenant who wishes to pursue a claim against their landlord is required to comply with the Pre Action Protocol for Disrepair Claims but landlords also need to be aware of and comply with the Protocol when faced with a disrepair claim.
Disrepair claims can be costly for landlords as courts routinely award substantial compensation in housing disrepair claims. Landlords who lose such cases can also be ordered to pay their tenant’s legal costs.
If you like to discuss any issues you may have with regards to your obligations as a landlord please do not hesitate to contact Philip Walsh.