Change in Landlord Repair Obligations

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Change in Landlord Repair Obligations

Postby Nick » Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:52 am

I read what I consider to be quite a major legal ruling which changes in Landlord Repair Obligations .

Ms C was a secure tenant of H&F (whose tenancy agreement repairing duties were limited to s.11 specifically). There was a fire in April 2010, which was started in a neighbouring flat through arson by the tenant. The fire gutted that flat and did considerable damage to the walls, ceilings and electrics in the common area outside the flats. There was smoke damage to Ms C’s flat, but the only other particular issue was a smoke damaged air vent that required replacement. Ms C also complained about a lingering smell of smoke.

After the fire Ms C had moved out. Although repairs and temporary lighting were fitted in the communal part within some weeks, Ms C did not move back in, despite H&F insisting the property was fit for use. It appears she also stopped paying rent, or some rent.

H&F brought a claim for possession, Ms C counterclaimed for disrepair. The principle issue was the smoke damaged air vent.

H&F argued that as the fire had not been caused by disrepair or H&F’s actions, the resulting damage to common parts, which was accepted to be disrepair fell under s.11(2)(b) and that therefore no liability arose to Ms C.

The District Judge apparently agreed with H&F and found that there was no liability for the fire related disrepair.

This argument could be extended to, for example, cases of water penetration between flats where the landlord is not primarily liable for the escape of water in the first place. It suggests that it would be a defence to a claim for the damage to the claimant’s flat (damaged plaster, walls, ceiling, electrics etc.) that the damage was the result of a ‘flood’ so no liability on the landlord’s part to rebuild or reinstate under s.11(2)(b).
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