RESPONSIBILITY TO REPAIR
If you are renting from a private landlord under an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) then your landlord must adhere to the following:
1.YOUR AST’S EXPRESS TERMS
Check your AST agreement for any express (written) obligations imposed upon you and the landlord for maintenance and repairs of the property. Your landlord cannot include an express term in your tenancy agreement that would reduce his statutory obligations and pass any of his legal responsibilities onto you.
2.THE LAW: IMPLIED TERMS
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 implies a term into your tenancy agreement where the landlord is obligated to carry out basic repairs to the property. The implied term applies whether your tenancy agreement is in writing or has been agreed orally. Section 11 confirms that your landlord is legally responsible for the repair of:
- the structure and exterior of your home, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors
- basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
- water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.
For tenancies that began on or after 15 January 1989, these repair responsibilities extend to the common parts of a building too, for example, entrance halls, stairs and lifts. Responsibilities for common parts where a tenancy began before this date are not set out in law, but landlords still have responsibilities under the common law.
Your landlord is not permitted to pass on any costs to you for any repairs that fall within the landlord’s remit.
YOUR LANDLORD’S RESPONSIBILITY UNDER SECTION 11 IS DEPENDENT ON HIM KNOWING ABOUT THE REPAIR. PUT IT IN WRITING. GIVE THEM 14-DAYS TO EFFECT A REPAIR OR A REASONABLE SOLUTION WITHIN A MUTUALLY AGREED TIMESCALE.
A landlord may be considered to have acted negligently when he has caused you injury or damage as a result of his careless or negligent behaviour. For example, your landlord may be considered negligent if he does not undertake the repair work needed in your home within a reasonable timescale or to a reasonable standard, after you had told him about it, and as a result you were injured or your belongings were damaged.
4. PRIVATE NUISANCE
A private nuisance happens when something in another property or in a common part of a building which is owned by your landlord, affects the use and enjoyment of your home. For example, if your landlord didn’t maintain pipes in the roof space of your block of flats and water leaked into your home causing damage. In this instance, you could take action against the landlord based on nuisance.
5. STATUTORY NUISANCE
Your landlord mustn’t cause a statutory nuisance for example a ‘Category 1’ or ‘Category 2’ hazard under the HHSRS. A statutory nuisance happens when your home is in such a state as to be harmful to your health or is a nuisance.
6. THE DEFECTIVE PREMISES ACT 1972
Your landlord owes you certain duties of care that are set out in this Act. They include a duty to prevent personal injury or damage to property caused by defects in your home. This duty is owed to you as well as members of your family and visitors to your home. The duty is owed where your landlord is under an obligation to repair or maintain your home, or has a right to enter the property to carry out maintenance or repairs. The duty is owed if the landlord knows or ought to have known about the repair, even if you haven’t told your landlord.
7. HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION (HMOS)
HMO must be licenced unless they are held to be exempt by the local housing authority. A landlord of an HMO has extra legal responsibilities on fire and general safety, water supply and drainage, gas and electricity, waste disposal, and general upkeep of the HMO.
8. SAFETY IN YOUR HOME
Your landlord has specific responsibilities for gas, electrical safety, furnishings and asbestos.
The Assured tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) Regulations 2015/16 sets out that the landlord must provide the tenant with:
- Regulation 2(a): An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property
- Regulation 2(b): Gas Safety Certificates (annually)
- Regulation 3(3): The ‘How To Rent’ DCLG Booklet
A landlord may be prosecuted if he fails to ensure that
- A tenant, occupant or visitor to the property is not put at risk of being exposed to asbestos.
- Furniture and furnishings provided with the property do not adhere to fire safety regulations.
If you or a member of your household is disabled, then your landlord may have a duty to make reasonable adjustments if you ask for them. Such alterations would not include the removal or alteration of physical features.
9. REVENGE EVICTIONS
Retaliatory evictions, also known as revenge evictions, is a problem frequently encountered by assured shorthold tenants who have complained to their landlord or the local authority about the condition of the property they are letting. The landlord immediately reacts by serving a section 21 notice to regain possession of the property. This revenge eviction serves two purposes. The first motivation is to punish the tenant for complaining by forcing him out of his home. The second and crucial objective is to enable the landlord to avoid the need to carry out any works to repair the property.
Section 33 and 34 of the Deregulation Act 2015 introduced provisions to address this problem. Essentially a landlord may no longer serve a section 21 notice within six months of a local authority serving an improvement notice or a notice of emergency remedial action under the Housing Act 2004.