Landlord and Tenant Housing Disrepair Claims

The number of people who own, and rent out a property, has considerably increased over the last 15 to 20 years as people invested in property and, when unable to sell, decided to rent them out, often becoming landlords for the very first time.

The law concerning residential tenancies is very complex and strictly regulated.  It is important that landlords know their obligations in terms of the taking and holding of a deposit, the need to obtain gas safety certificates and their repairing obligations.

Many first-time landlords will seek advice from a letting agent.  They may be instructed to manage the property on their behalf.  However, it is important that you as the owner understand it is you, not the managing agent, who is liable.  It is you who will be held accountable for any failure to meet your obligations..

Tenants are generally better informed than they were.  They often know more about their rights and your obligations as landlord.  Failure to maintain your rental property or respond to your tenants' requests for repairs promptly may lead to you facing a housing disrepair claim.

Sometimes this will be brought by the tenant during the course of the tenancy.  However, it is certainly not uncommon to find such a claim being brought towards the end of a contract, or where you are seeking a Possession Order to reclaim the property based on rent arrears.

What am I liable for?

A housing disrepair claim may render you liable for:

  • The cost of carrying out repairs
  • Damages to the tenant for ill health,
  • Damages to the resident's own personal property

Do not ignore a solicitor's letter or a claim form from the court.  The likelihood of a costly dispute or court proceedings can potentially be avoided by speaking to me first.  In any event, you should not ignore any requests from the tenant to carry out works in the first place. 

It is always far better to try and address any issue early on rather than allow it to escalate.  

If the renter does commence proceedings against you then there is a risk that legal costs will become disporpotionate to the original disputed repair.  You may be liable for not only your own legal costs but those of your tenant if their complaint is upheld.  If a tenant is making a complaint about repairs or, indeed, any aspect of their tenancy, then you should seek advice from someone experienced in these matters.

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