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Landlord Repairing Obligations:

Under the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985, the landlord is responsible by law for certain repairs. We have enclosed the wording of Section 11 which deals with the repairing obligations of a landlord. However, generally speaking, as a landlord you are responsible for repairs to the structure and exterior of the property, sinks, baths and any other sanitary installations within the property. You are also responsible for the heating in the property.

By this, we understand that as a landlord you should ensure that all the sanitary installations and heating including pipes as well as boilers and radiators are in safe working order at all times. Should a tenant complain that there is a malfunctioning unit it is in your best interests to ensure that it is fixed as soon as possible to ensure minimum risk to the tenants health.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 Section 11

1. Disclosure of landlord's identity

(1) In a lease to which this section applies (as to which, see sections 13 and 14) there is implied a covenant by the lessor -
(a) to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes),
(b) to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwellinghouse for the supply of water, gas and 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), and
(c) to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwellinghouse for space heating and heating water.
(1A) If a lease to which this section applies is a lease of a dwelling-house which forms part only of a building, then, subject to subsection (1B), the covenant implied by subsection (1) shall have effect as if-
(a) the reference in paragraph (a) of that subsection to the dwelling-house included a reference to any part of the building in which the lessor has an estate or interest; and
(b) any reference in paragraphs (b) and (c) of that subsection to an installation in the dwelling-house included a reference to an installation which, directly or indirectly, serves the dwelling-house and which either-
(i) forms part of any part of a building in which the lessor has an estate or interest; or
(ii) is owned by the lessor or under his control.
(IB) Nothing in subsection (1A) shall be construed as requiring the lessor to carry out any works or repairs unless the disrepair (or failure to maintain in working order) is such as to affect the lessee's enjoyment of the dwelling-house or of any common parts, as defined in section 60(1) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, which the lessee, as such, is entitled to use.
(2) The covenant implied by subsection (1) ("the lessor's repairing covenant") shall not be construed as requiring the lessor-
(a) to carry out works or repairs for which the lessee is liable by virtue of his duty to use the premises in a tenant-like manner, or would be so liable but for an express covenant on his part,
(b) to rebuild or reinstate the premises in the case of destruction or damage by fire, or by tempest, flood or other inevitable accident, or
(c) to keep in repair or maintain anything which the lessee is entitled to remove from the dwelling-house.
(3) In determining the standard of repair required by the lessor's repairing covenant, regard shall be had to the age, character and prospective life of the dwelling-house and the locality in which it is situated.
(3A) In any case where-
(a) the lessor's repairing covenant has effect as mentioned in subsection (1A), and
(b) in order to comply with the covenant the lessor needs to carry out works or repairs otherwise than in, or to an installation in, the dwelling-house, and
(c) the lessor does not have a sufficient right in the part of the building or the installation concerned to enable him to carry out the required works or repairs,
then, in any proceedings relating to a failure to comply with the lessor's repairing covenant, so far as it requires the lessor to carry out the works or repairs in question, it shall be a defence for the lessor to prove that he used all reasonable endeavours to obtain, but was unable to obtain, such rights as would be adequate to enable him to carry out the works or repairs.
(4) A covenant by the lessee for the repair of the premises is of no effect so far as it relates to the matters mentioned in subsection (1)(a) to (c), except so far as it imposes on the lessee any of the requirements mentioned in subsection (2)(a) or (c).
(5) The reference in subsection (4) to a covenant by the lessee for the repair of the premises includes a covenant -
(a) to put in repair or deliver up in repair,
(b) to paint, point or render,
(c) to pay money in lieu of repairs by the lessee, or
(d) to pay money on account of repairs by the lessor.
(6) In a lease in which the lessor's repairing covenant is implied there is also implied a covenant by the lessee that the lessor, or any person authorised by him in writing, may at reasonable times of the day and on giving 24 hours' notice in writing to the occupier, enter the premises comprised in the lease for the purpose of viewing their condition and state of repair.

What can the tenant do?

Unfortunately several landlords are of the impression that they do not have to do anything. Well, you do because you have a duty of care to your tenant! The term duty of care is valid to just about everything we do in everyday life. We all have a duty of care to each other! You must ensure that the dwelling is safe, hygenic and that all the items in the property are safe to use. We all know about the gas, Electric and Furniture regulations, but bear in mind that you should ensure that any other possible problem could be put down to your negligence. For example, that gutter that you have been meaning to fix for the last two years, suddenly decides it has given up hanging on by itsí last hinge and plummets to the ground, hitting the tenant as they walk out of the door. Well, you will be liable! The tenant can prosecute you for failing in your repairing obligations and also seek compensation. Another very good reason to ensure that you have the correct insurance policy for being a rented property.

Many Landlords have asked us why they should repair something that a tenant has damaged. The answer is because it is the law.

As a landlord, it is often difficult to prove that the damage was the fault of the tenant. You can get engineers in who will say that the heating has broken down because it has been on high all day for the last four months, but then there is little you can do about this. The tenant has a right to heating and if they are cold, then they are going to turn it on and up. You have a duty to ensure that the heating is working correctly at all times and it does not matter how the tenant behaves.

We had an excellent case a few winters ago whereby the tenant left the property for two months over Christmas and turned the heating off. The pipes froze and burst and the water tank split. The water tank was situated in the loft of a five storey house that was being rented out for £2500 per month. Upon the tenants return they rang the landlord and immediately informed him of the disaster. The landlord rang us up in a panic and asked what they should do. As we were arranging for repair men to enter and replace carpets and decorate after getting the dryes in it occurred to us to have a look through the tenancy agreement. Sure enough, there was a clause that stated that the tenant must inform the landlord if they are going to be absent from the property for more than two weeks. Plus we had also put in the contract that the tenant upon leaving the property for any period of time must ensure that the heating is left on so as to avoid the freezing of any pipes. The tenant had failed on both counts and was faced with a serious bill to pay. Fortunately they had the foresight to take out insurance and we all lived happily ever after.

If you have a particularly difficult tenant who complains the whole time about things that need mending, donít worry too much. At least you know the property is being looked after! The term no news is good news, does not really apply to landlords!

However, if you have a tenant who appears to be breaking everything he touches, then your best course of action may be to serve notice and deduct the cost of repair from the deposit. Note however, that you will have to come to agreement with the tenant and that it is unwise to just take the money and run!

I hope this helps out a little and apologise for yet another lengthy document, but we are trying to keep you in touch with your responsibilities.

 

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