Landlords Legal Obligations to Avoid Housing Disrepair
Local authorities, housing associations and other social landlords have legal obligations to maintain properties which they let to tenants to avoid housing disrepair. Failure to do so can result in legal action brought by tenants who are entitled to live in a safe and healthy environment.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 makes it an implied term of every tenancy that the landlord will keep a property in good repair and the law also places several legal duties on landlords in the Defective Premises Act 1972 requiring landlords to take reasonable care to ensure that tenants (their family and visitors) are safe from injury caused by a property defect of which the landlord ought to have known.
Common types of disrepair include:
Damp or mould on walls
Water damage from leaks
Broken or rotten windows and doors
Legal Actions Available to Tenants
A tenant can take proceedings in the local County Court for an order requiring the landlord to carry out the necessary repairs and they may be entitled to financial compensation (damages) for the distress and inconvenience and losses suffered by the tenant and his/her family because of the lack of repairs to their home.
Expert Witness Disrepair Claims
Normally, before a tenant starts a court action against a landlord, the tenant’s legal adviser will invite the landlord to agree to jointly instruct a suitable expert to inspect the premises and prepare a report of the defects. Court rules encourage the parties to agree to instruct a single joint expert, such as a qualified surveyor like myself, to report on the property. I can undertake a property inspection on behalf of either the landlord, tenant or both, and identify problems, estimates for the overall cost of the repair work and an analysis of which defects fall within the scope of the landlord’s repairing obligations, i.e., section 11 of Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972.
Housing Condition Surveys
Local authorities, housing associations and other social landlords should conduct regular stock condition surveys which can be integrated with day-to-day information on estates and individual dwellings.
Housing condition surveys are often used as the basis to complete a planned schedule of the maintenance for a building, with a budgeted cost and timings. A detailed knowledge of the age, type and condition of the housing stock should inform all aspects of housing management and provide a sound basis for effective asset management.
My detailed inspection establishes a building’s condition, the maintenance required immediately and when future repairs should be anticipated. My clients find my condition surveys a valuable investment, as they anticipate a building’s maintenance and the associated financial commitment required, rather than far more expensive reactive maintenance. This comprehensive stock information will also help identify where there is the greatest risk of litigation or other actions, for instance those properties prone to dampness, or where excessive sound transmission could affect the health of tenants.
How I Can Help
I can undertake assessments on housing condition and disrepair, either on behalf of a claimant, in counterclaims, or as a pro-active measure before any legal action, to assess the exact nature of any problems and any remedial or maintenance action necessary. My report would clearly describe the conditions and details the action required (whether this be for work, or for further investigations into the cause(s) of defects identified) and, if necessary, there should be a schedule of work together which a clear outline of landlord’s obligations.
I take pride in providing a service that is uniquely tailored to the needs of each client, approaching each and every set of instructions with absolute integrity, care and competence. I also ensure that my work is consistently conducted in accordance with the highest professional and ethical standards.
To explore more about the professional services that I can offer you or your business please contact me.