If you are renting a property and something falls into disrepair, who, if anyone, is responsible? Are you, as a tenant, obliged to foot the bill? Or is it your landlord’s obligation to carry out repairs? We take a look at these questions, helping you to understand your legal position with regard to housing disrepair.

Landlord and Tenant Act – Housing Disrepair

When you sign a tenancy agreement, you can expect the landlord or agent (with whom you have entered into a contract) to keep the property in good repair. This is a legal obligation, and is set out in Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

The law states that a landlord is responsible for the maintenance and repair of:-

  • The structure and exterior of the dwelling (including drains, gutters and pipes);
  • The installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation (including sinks, baths and toilets);
  • The installations for the supply of space heating and water heating (including pipes, boilers and radiators);
  • The communal areas and installations associated with the dwelling.

If a repair is necessary – either because a tenant has reported it or because it has been identified in an inspection – a landlord must see to it that work is carried out promptly. This is part and parcel of a landlord’s ‘duty of care’ towards his tenants, and must be respected at all times.

Breach of Duty

Unfortunately, not all landlords respect their legal responsibilities. Indeed, many believe that they are not required to carry out any repairs whatsoever. However, this is simply not the case: a landlord has specific repairing obligations which are clearly set out in the law. If a landlord fails to respect this legislation, he/she will have breached their duty of care towards their tenant.

The only exception to the rule is if something falls into disrepair because a tenant has breached the tenancy agreement. In such cases, a landlord will not be liable for the subsequent works or repairs.

What Action Can a Tenant Take?

If a landlord has breached their repairing obligations, a tenant is entitled to take legal action. The first step is to comply with the ‘Pre-action Protocol for Housing Disrepair’. This compels a tenant to send an early notification letter to their landlord, explaining the nature of the problem and detailing what repairs need to be carried out. This gives your landlord the opportunity to reply, either agreeing with your claim, or disputing their liability regarding the housing disrepair. If your landlord contests your claim, your case may proceed to the court.

Contact Us Today

If you would like further advice on your legal rights as a tenant, contact us at Roskell Davies solicitors today. We have a wealth of experience in housing disrepair claims, and will be able to suggest what action you can take next.

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