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Housing Repairs And The Landlords Responsibility

Nov 24, 2007
Did you know that your landlord or her/his authorized agent has the right to enter the accommodation to inspect its condition and state of repair at reasonable times of day and at 24 hours written notice?

Also, that Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 is the most important of the landlords obligations to carry out basic repairs? It works by implying terms into a tenancy agreement (whether or not a tenant has anything in writing) which cannot be overridden by any express terms. The landlord therefore cannot seek to avoid, nor to contract out of, these obligations.

When does section 11 apply

Section 11 will apply to most tenancies, whether in the private or public sector. It applies to all periodic tenancies and fixed term leases of less than seven years which began after 24 October 1961. The main exceptions are the following:-

lettings for less than seven years will not be covered if there is a stated option to renew the tenancy for a further term, which would result in the tenancy lasting for more than seven years in total agricultural tenancies covered by the Agricultural Holdings Act 1948 most business tenancies crown tenancies, that is, most tenants of government departments.

Tenants who do not come under the scope of section 11 may be able to have a repair carried out under one or more of the landlords other responsibilities, including the terms implied by common law.

The landlord's obligations under section 11

The landlord must:-

keep in repair (see below) the structure and exterior of the building or part of a building which is let to the tenant (including drains, gutters and external pipes)

keep in repair and proper working order the installations for the supply of water, gas and electricity, and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths, toilets)

keep in repair and proper working order the installations for space heating and heating water.

Keep in repair This is a continuing obligation to keep up the standard of repair throughout the tenancy. It also means that the landlord has to put into repair the structure and exterior of the property, even if it was not in good repair at the beginning of the tenancy.

Repair The landlords obligation to repair only comes into operation when there has been damage to the structure and/or exterior which requires it is made good. The landlord is therefore obliged to put right something that has gone wrong, or which does not work in the way it was intended to work. The landlords obligation under section 11 can also cover putting right a defect that results from an inherent or design fault, for example, replacing a damproof course which had been laid in such a way as to cause dampness; providing a WC cistern; replacing missing expansion joints; or underpinning where there is subsidence. Whether the landlord has to provide a different thing from that which was originally contracted for will depend upon the individual circumstances of the case. Relevant factors may include what proportion of the premises are affected, the cost of the works and the age of the property.

Structure and exterior There is no precise legal definition of this. The structure includes outside walls and windows, frames, ceilings, roof and foundations. It can be argued that it also includes external doors and windows, including the glass. If the landlord disputes that this is the case, specialist advice may be needed. It does not include internal wall plaster or decorations as such, but if these are affected by disrepair to something for which the landlord is responsible under this section, for example, disrepair to an external wall leading to penetrating damp, the tenant may be able to use section 11. The exterior of the building means the outside or external parts of the dwelling.
About the Author
Davinos Greeno works for a green company and fairtrade shopping directory that lists 100s of Ethical Companies and we also have eco home articles to read.
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