n summary, it puts an obligation on a landlord to keep in repair & proper working order:
· The structure and exterior of the dwelling house, including drains gutters and external pipes
· The installations of the dwelling-house that supply water, gas, electricity and sanitation (which includes basins, sinks, bath and sanitary fittings)
Housing disrepair is bound in section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, and implied into all tenancies of less than seven years.
The landlord is obliged to keep ‘the installations in the dwelling-house’ in repair and working order. This includes installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, heating and hot water. Water or gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators and other space heating. Where an installation is centralised, e.g. in high rise block, then tenants with tenancies entered into after 15 January 1989 are protected with repairing obligations covering centralised systems. The same is not true of those prior to this date.
Structure or Exterior
Examples of structure or exterior include:
1. Floor joists are part of the structure
2. A partition between two dwellings is a part of the structure
3. The roof and any skylights are part of the structure
4. The walls and any render are part of the structure.
5. External joinery will usually be part of the structure and failure to paint to protect against rot is a failure to keep in repair [Irvine’s Estate v Moran 1991]
6. Windows are part of the structure and exterior (usually).
7. In relation to a house, the path and primary means of access, including steps are part of the exterior
8. Bannisters and staircases are part of the structure [Hannon v Hillingdon Homes Ltd 2012]
9. An extractor fan is part of the structure [Aden v Birmingham CC December 2013]
It must be shown that there is disrepair to these elements. There is much case law around this that requires careful consideration on a case by case basis. For example it is now clear that plaster is part of the structure [Grand v Gill 2011].
However, in our opinion, plaster requires a balanced assessment as hairline or decorative cracking isn’t section 11. If plaster is contaminated by foul water, spalling or in a significant state of disrepair, it is a section 11 matter. A more recent case [D R v Southwark LBC 2014] found that saturated plaster caused by condensation, when containing hygroscopic salts is considered damaged beyond recovery.
Flats and Apartments
For flats and apartments, the structure and exterior includes outside walls; outside and inner party walls; the outer sides of the horizontal divisions between the flat and other flats; the ceilings and walls of the flat [Campden Hill Towers Ltd v Gardner 1977] and the whole roof terrace (except tiled surfaces – Ibrahim v Dovecorn Reversions Ltd 2001).
Where a flat is the top floor flat and the ceiling and rood are an inseparable structural unit, the roof is within the definition of structure and exterior.
What if it is a flat, separated by another flat from the roof?
II the tenancy was entered into after 15 January 1989, a defect to the roof that is affecting the tenant, e.g. water leaking in, the landlord can be held responsible (as long as the landlord had an interest in the roof).
Lease Covenant In the circumstances for the purpose of establishing disrepair
The statutory repairing covenants imputed to the agreement by Section11 Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 have been applied and are shown in full below. The tenancy may impose express repairing or decorating liabilities on either the Landlord or the tenant in areas which lie outside those covered by statute.
Repairing Obligations in Short Term Leases Section 11 (Landlord & Tenant Act 1985)
1. In a lease to which this section applies (as to which, see sections 13 and 14) there is an implied covenant by the Lessor: –
a) To keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling house (including drains, gutters and external pipes).
b) To keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fittings, fixtures and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity).
c) To keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling house for space heating and hot water.
1.A) If a lease to which this section applies is a lease of a dwelling house which forms part only of a building, then subject to subsection (1B), the covenant implied by subsection (1) shall have effect as if: –
a) The reference in paragraph (a) of that subsection to the dwelling house included a reference to any part of the building in which the lessor has an estate or interest.
b) Any references in paragraphs (b) and (c) of that subsection to an installation in the dwelling-house included a reference to an installation which directly or indirectly, serves the dwelling-house and which either: –
1) Forms part or any part of a building in which the lessor has an estate or interest, or
2) Is owned by the lessor or under his control.
1.B) Nothing in subsection (1A) shall be construed as requiring the lessor to carry out any works or repairs unless the disrepair (or failing to maintain in good working order) is such as to affect the lessee`s enjoyment of the dwelling house or of any common parts, as defined in 6 Section 60 (1) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987, which the lessee, as such is entitled to use.
2. The covenant implied by subsection (1) (the lessor`s repairing covenant) shall not be construed as requiring the lessor: –
a) To carry out the works or repairs for which the lessee is liable by virtue of his duty to use the premises in a tenant-like manner, or would be so liable but for an express covenant on his part
b) To rebuild or reinstate the premises in the case of destruction or damage by fire, tempest, flood or other inevitable accident, or
c) To keep in repair or maintain anything which the lessee is entitled to remove from the dwelling-house.
3. In determining the standards of repair required by the lessor`s repairing covenant, regard shall be had to the age, character and the prospective life of the dwelling house and the locality in which it is situated.
3.A In any case where: –
a) The lessor`s repairing covenant has effect as mentioned in subsection (1A) and,
b) In order to comply with the covenant, the lessor needs to carry out works or repairs otherwise than in, or to an installation in, the dwelling-house, and
c) the lessor does not have a sufficient right in the part of the building or the installation concerned to enable him to carry out the required works or repairs, then, in any proceedings relating to a failure to comply with the lessor`s repairing covenant, so far as it requires the lessor to carry out the works or repairs in question, it shall be a defence for the lessor to prove that he used all reasonable endeavours to obtain, but was unable to obtain, such rights as would be adequate to enable him to carry out the works.
4. A) covenant by the lessee for the repair of the premises is of no effect so far as it relates to the matters mentioned in subsection (1) (a) to (c), except so far as it imposes on the lessee any of the requirements mentioned in subsection (2) (a) or (c).
5. The reference in subsection (4) to a covenant by the lessee for the repair of the premises includes a covenant: –
a) To put in repair or deliver up in repair,
b) To paint, point or render,
c) To pay money in lieu of repairs by the lessee or,
d) To pay money on account of repairs by the lessor.
6. In a lease where the lessor`s repairing covenant is implied there is also implied a covenant by the lessee that the lessor, or any person authorised by him in writing, may at reasonable times of the day and on giving 24 hours` notice in writing to the occupier, enter the premises comprised in the lease for viewing their condition and state of repair.