Landlords; Beware disrepair!

Landlords, you could be at risk of a housing disrepair claim or delays in obtaining possession if your residential tenant has reported issues of disrepair to you, given you sufficient time to carry out the repairs and you have failed to undertake them.

Landlords Repair Responsibilities

Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 automatically includes certain repair obligations into a residential tenancy agreement.

Landlords are obliged to keep in repair the following:

  1. The structure and exterior of the property; for example, walls, roof, windows and doors;
  2. The installations in the property that supply:
  3. gas and electricity (for example pipes and wiring)
  4. heating and hot water (for example the boiler)
  5. water and sanitation (for example sinks and toilets)

The above cannot be contracted out of, for example, by including a clause into the tenancy agreement that the tenant is liable to keep in good working order the boiler.

The obligation to carry out repairs arises only once you are aware of the problems.

Landlord Health and Safety obligations

Landlords must:

  1. Have a gas safety check undertaken every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer (if there is gas at the property);
  2. Have an Electrical Installation Condition Report undertaken by an electrical engineer every 5 years to ensure electrical equipment provided meets safety standards;
  3. Make sure any furniture provided meets safety standards;
  4. Install a smoke alarm on each floor and carbon monoxide detectors in any room with a fixed combustion appliance.

In addition, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation Act) 2018 obliges Landlords to ensure that at the time of granting a residential tenancy and throughout that tenancy, the property is fit for human habitation.

A property may be determined unfit for habitation if there are problems with damp, a lack of natural light, a lack of ventilation and the property is unstable, by way of example.

Failure to comply with repair obligations and to ensure the property is fit for habitation, could lead to a Landlord being on the receiving end of the following:

Local Authority Action

A tenant can approach the local authority to take action. A housing officer can inspect the property for hazards and may take enforcement action against the Landlord.

Disrepair / Court Claim

Landlords are at risk of a housing disrepair claim, which usually includes a claim for works to be undertaken, as well as damages (compensation) payable to the tenant.

If a claim is brought, the tenant will need to prove that the property suffers from actionable defects, that the landlord had notice of these defects and that the landlord failed to remedy the actionable defects within a reasonable period of time once they had knowledge.

The Landlord may have a defence if the tenant failed to allow the landlord and or its contractors access to the property. The tenant has a responsibility to allow access in order for works to be carried out.

Delays in Obtaining Possession

Landlords need to be careful if steps are taken to seek possession and evict tenants, rather than undertaking repairs required. By serving a notice of possession, a Landlord could be at risk of the tenant claiming ‘retaliatory’ or ‘revenge’ eviction.

If the tenant challenges the Landlords claim for possession, it could render a Section 21 Housing Act 1988 notice to quit, invalid and could lead to a counterclaim following service of a Section 8 Housing Act 1988 notice to quit and subsequent court proceedings for possession.

The above could significantly delay the Landlord obtaining possession and at additional cost.

Landlords; how to avoid potential action and delays in obtaining possession:

  1. Carry out regular inspections;
  2. Undertake repair works as soon as you are notified, or within a reasonable period of time;
  3. Keep records of all communications (telephone, text, email and letter) with your tenant and retain evidence, such as invoices, photographs and correspondence with the local authority and surveyors / contractors for example. 

Landlords, in brief, we advise that you action any reported problems as quickly as possible and keep evidence of communication, receipts and invoices of work undertaken. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact Rhoda Honey, an Associate Solicitor in our Dispute Resolution Team on;

Rhoda Honey



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