Disagreements between landlord and tenants relating to housing repairs are amongst the most common form of property dispute. It is important to understand that landlords are not responsible for all repairs; some will fall to the tenant to undertake. The repair obligations on the landlord are contained in the leasehold agreement, and within separate acts of law, hence, it is easy to see why confusion may occur as to who should pay for repairs to be made. As a London-based Solicitors, we are frequently asked to intervene in housing disrepair disputes. We always take an objective view of the situation to determine who is legally responsible for housing repairs and will work to find a negotiated resolution to any dispute between landlord and tenant.
What are the landlord’s housing repair obligations?
The lease agreement between tenant and landlord should define who is responsible for each type of repair. Landlords are usually responsible for the maintenance and repair of the main parts of the building, including the:
Beyond the lease agreement, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (LTA) includes an ‘implied covenant’ requiring landlords to maintain and repair the structure, exterior, and installations for the supply of essential services, and that it is fit for human habitation.
The Defective Premises Act 1972 (DPA) also imposes on landlords who are responsible for repairs “a duty of care to ensure that all people who could reasonably be affected by ‘relevant defects’ in the state of the premises are reasonably safe from personal injury or damage to their property resulting from the defects”.
What is a notice of disrepair?
If a tenant believes that repairs have not been made by the landlord, they may issue a notice of disrepair. The pre-action protocol for disrepair disputes is designed to prevent, where possible, matters being dealt with by the courts, hence avoiding additional cost and stress. To achieve this, a resolution should be negotiated with the aid of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods. If ADR is not successful or possible, the tenant can issue a letter of claim to the landlord stating their intention to take court action. The landlord then has 20 days to respond, whereafter, if the matter is still not resolved, or if no answer is received, the dispute will be referred to the court. A formal inspection of the property may need to be undertaken by a surveyor or other expert.
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to the use of mediation, arbitration, or negotiation to find a solution to disputes without involving the courts. Mediation involves an independent third party (a mediator), who will work with both parties to find an agreement. Arbitration uses an ‘arbitrator’ who will listen to the situation from both sides and recommend an outcome which then becomes binding.
Why should I use AQ Archers to assist with a housing disrepair dispute?
Being based in London where most properties are owned on a leasehold basis, we are well versed with housing disrepair disputes. Our team has assisted many tenants and landlords of all types and scales in finding solutions to often very complex housing disrepair disputes. We believe in doing everything possible to find solutions in the fastest way possible that preserve the relationship of the parties. If ADR methods do not prove effective, we will recommend and assist you through the court process.
We can also advise at the outset of a lease arrangement by reviewing the terms of the agreement on behalf of landlords and tenants. Ultimately, by doing so, any potential for disputes can be mitigated.