Duties, Rights and knowledge
Historically, tenants have had a tough time of it when it comes to the condition of some properties they rent. Tenants have had to endure paying rent on properties that are in various states of dilapidation and had no way of compelling their landlord to repair the property or to be reimbursed, if they carried out repairs and works themselves. The tenant’s position has been weak, to say the least.
As landlords did not have to, they would not enter into agreements that would require them to carry out repairs. If tenants wanted a landlord to be responsible for repairs and insisted on a term for repairing in the tenancy agreement, usually, the offer of tenancy would be withdrawn and the lessor would wait until another person, possibly a more desperate than the last came along and would accept the tenancy agreement without a term for repairs.
Tenant Housing Repair Rights is here to provide information and hopefully clearer understanding on the main repairing obligations of landlords. As landlord’s duties to repair is now, defined by statue, reliance on the common law has become less necessary in some cases to ensure they meet their obligation.
Statutorily Implied Terms
The Landlord and Tenant Act (LTA) 1985 makes it impossible for landlords to avoid their repairing obligations now. It is one of the few pieces of legislation that has had a retrospective effect, as the LTA applies to tenancies entered in to after 1961.
So, the Housing Act 1985 sets out the principal definition of unfitness for human habitation. This puts the onus on landlords, not on the tenant, to deal with the matters of dilapidation and repairs. Also, the Defective Premises Act 1974 allows people, other than tenants of a property to sue the landlord for disrepair. Common law actions of nuisance and negligence have also been proved to be applicable in the area of housing disrepair.
Furthermore, the Environmental Protection Act 1990, also defines what amounts to a statutory nuisance. This is a criminal offence and dealt with in the Magistrates Court. These are the major provisions in respect to disrepair in residential property.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 section 11
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act provision is implied to all tenancies of less than seven years in duration, entered in to after 24 October 1961 and imposes an obligation on landlords to carry out basic repairs and maintenance to their properties.
Section 11 cannot be excluded from any residential tenancy agreement. Therefore, landlords cannot negotiate with tenants to exclude section 11 from a tenancy agreement. If a landlord was to do this and the tenant then chose to pursue a case under section 11 disrepair, the court would not recognise that agreement.
If there is an express term in a tenancy agreement to repair and the term falls short of section 11, the whole of section 11 will be implied into the agreement. In longer tenancies, section 11 does also apply in certain circumstances, and states that the landlord must:
- keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling, including drains, gutters and external pipes,
- 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, and
- keep in repair and proper working order the installation in the dwelling for space heating and heating water.
That being said, if a tenant is found to be in breach of her/his duty to behave in a tenant-like manner, the landlord will not be responsible for any works or repairs because of that breach. For example, if the tenant decides to install central heating without the permission of the landlord and damages any existing plumbing or the structure of the building, the landlord is not responsible for rectifying the matter right. The landlord will also not be responsible for rebuilding or reinstating the premises if destroyed by fire, tempest, flood or other inevitable accident, or be responsible for keeping in repair or maintaining anything which belongs to the tenant.
Register you details and information about the items you have been asking your landlord to repair.
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