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Housing Disrepair – What is my landlord responsible for?

Under a tenancy agreement for rented accommodation, a landlord has many different responsibilities. As a result, a tenant has several rights.

A landlord’s over-riding obligation is to ensure that a property remains in a state of reasonable repair (in accordance with the terms of the tenancy agreement).

Many aspects of the tenancy agreement are specifically stated within the contract – known as express terms. A Defendant landlord is responsible for these express terms, in so far as the tenancy agreement states. A tenant has obligations relating to the express terms (for example, putting a landlord on notice of an issue in order to allow for a reasonable time-frame in which the landlord must act).

There are also certain implied terms that arise from statute. These implied terms place responsibilities on a landlord. Under the implied terms, a landlord cannot change or amend their obligations. Implied terms confirm a landlord’s responsibilities under section 4 of the Defective Premises Act, and Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenants Act.

Under the Defective Premises Act, a landlord has a duty of care. This ensures that tenants are reasonably safe from injury or damage to their property. What is reasonable will of course depend on the circumstances of each case.

However, if a landlord knows (or ought to have known) of the existence of a defect which was likely to cause injury or damage, a failure to act would mean a breach of the duty of care. A tenant would a correct to pursue the matter in such instances.

The key aspect here is knowledge. The best way to ensure that a Defendant landlord has knowledge is to report any issues directly to the landlord.

The main ‘repairing’ obligation placed on a landlord comes from section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant’s Act. This obligation is absolute – the terms cannot be altered.

This section clearly states that a landlord is responsible for maintenance of the structure of the premises, and for the maintenance of the exterior of the premises. A landlord must also maintain the supply of water, gas, and electricity. Accordingly, a Defendant landlord has a clear obligation to maintain the property in accordance with this section, regardless of any other terms in a tenancy agreement.

However, the crucial aspect remains that a potential Defendant landlord must receive notice of any issues requiring repair before any legal obligation can be imposed on the Defendant. Whilst a claimant can try to seek to imply a landlord knew or ought to have known about a defect (through inspections, for example), actually reporting defects and repair issues are the best way to show this.

We recommend reporting any issues that you believe require repair (or that you believe represent a risk of injury or damage), and ensuring that this is documented should it later need to be relied upon.

If you have had any issues with disrepair in a property, and a landlord has failed to act, do not hesitate to call us to discuss your options in recovering any losses.

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