How long does a landlord have to fix a problem?

Written by dirk huds Google
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How long does a landlord have to fix a problem?
If a letting agent manages the property, the agent is liable to arrange for the repairs. (Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Properties will at some point require repair. This may be due to a criminal act, a force of nature, an accident or simply deterioration with age. When the property is rented to a tenant, the landlord has certain obligations with regard to repairs. Section 11 of the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act sets out these obligations.

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Requirements

Under the terms of the legislation, the landlord is required to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling, the supply of electricity, gas and water, fixtures and fittings for sanitation, such as baths, sinks and drains, and devices for heating the dwelling and its water supply.

Time

The Act does not set out a statutory period of time within which repairs must be carried out. The details form part of an implied covenant, by which the landlord will carry out such repairs as and when necessary.

Standards

The standard of the repairs required is dependent upon the character, age and location of the property. Similar standards of repair are not required across all rental properties. A rural farmhouse, for instance, would not have the same type of repairs as a modern luxury apartment.

Access

The landlord, or people that the landlord has authorised to enter the building, must give the tenants at least 24 hours notice in writing to gain access to the property for the purposes of inspection of the property. They must also seek access at a reasonable time of the day.

Refusing entry

If a tenant refuses the landlord or his agents entry to inspect the property for repairs, they will have less leverage in claiming damages from the state of disrepair. For example, if a tenant is injured by something the landlord is required to repair, his claim for damages will be compromised if he refused access to repair the item. The landlord may also deduct some of the tenant’s damage deposit if the lack of repair causes the property to deteriorate and lose value.

Non compliance

The tenant is contractually still liable to pay full rent to the end of the tenancy agreement, even if the landlord does not perform the repairs required under the 1985 Act. It would therefore be a breach of the contract to withhold rent or break the tenancy. However, the landlord’s claim for full rent is unlikely to be granted in a judicial court if the lack of repairs makes the property unsafe or uninhabitable.

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