DAMP AND DISREPAIR IN YOUR RENTED PROPERTY
Landlords remember it could be an expensive lesson if you do not deal with your Tenant’s reasonable request to deal with any disrepairs at the property you are letting.
In the case of Woolf v North London Homes at Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court, 19 April 2012, a landlord’s obligation in respect of dealing with disrepair was considered.
The claimant was an assured shorthold tenant of a two-bedroom flat in the attic of house from28 November 2008, but left in January 2011. She complained of disrepair from the commencement of the tenancy, including a leak to the bath, a leaking toilet and a burst pipe, and an intermittent hot water supply. These defects were remedied, but from 2009 onwards there was a bad smell of damp, the front door would not lock properly, the bathroom window was rotten and a pane fell out, the roof was leaking and the building suffered from subsidence. The defects were confirmed by the evidence of an environmental health officer and the tenant’s surveyor. The landlords defended the claim on the basis that the tenant had refused access and made various allegations against her, including that she was an alcoholic, had deliberately damaged the property, kept dogs at the property, left vast quantities of nappies outside the premises and had caused the attendance of the police. All of these allegations were rejected by the judge, who found that there was significant disrepair from the time when the claimant moved in, which worsened over time until March 2010 when the claimant’s surveyor inspected. During 2009, the premises had defective windows and were subject to damp. The judge awarded damages at 20 per cent of the rent of £1,450 per month for the 15 months from the beginning of the tenancy until March 2010, and 30 per cent of the rent for the eight months thereafter, making a total of £7,830 for disrepair. She also awarded £2,500 in respect of special damages on the basis that the claimant had suffered some loss; however, the Judge she did not accept some of the more exotic items in the schedule of special damages for which the claimant had no receipts. Total damages awarded were, therefore, £10,330.
Originally reported by Beatrice Prevatt’s in the December 2012 Legal Action,
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