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Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats

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Repairs and Maintenance

Express Terms

Tenancy agreements may contain express provisions as to tenants' repair obligations and the state the property needs to be kept in. Where a lease requires the tenant to 'keep premises in repair' this is construed to mean that the tenant has to put the premises into repair where they are out of it. Common law interprets 'repair' to mean that the property or parts of it have deteriorated from some previous physical condition. The requirement to repair does not include preventive works.

The standard of repair is determined by the express words in the tenancy agreement or implied from the context of what kind of property it is. You cannot be compelled to turn a garden shed into Buckingham Palace.

Fair wear and tear: Disrepair through fair wear and tear or lapse of time or any other reason not caused by the tenant is not covered in the repair obligation and the tenant cannot be made responsible for this. You can read more about this on the page where deposits are discussed.

A scaffold in Brighton (Beatrice Bass)

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (LTA 1985) is your best mate

Fit for Human Habitation

Section 10 of the LTA 1985 implies a term into every tenancy agreement that the premises must be fit for human habitation. Factors which are taken into account when establishing if a property is fit for human habitation are:

A property is deemed unfit if, and only if, it is so far defective in one or more of these elements that it cannot be reasonably occupied in that condition.

Dampness - open your windows

The question of damp tends to be a common cause for disputes between landlords and tenants. Dampness can cause mould which is harmful but is not necessarily held dangerous to occupants. Mould is caused by high humidity levels in a property and whether the landlord is obliged to undertake repair work depends on how the raised humidity levels are caused:

Where the humidity is caused by a defect in the structure or the plumbing of the property the landlord has to fix the problem. This includes situations where water leaks into the property due to broken roof tiles, cracks in external walls, blocked gutters, cracked window frames or leaking pipes.

However high levels of humidity and mould are very commonly caused by condensation. The best advice for tenants to avoid damp through condensation is to keep the property well ventilated. Basically open your windows and regularly air the property! Opening windows to air a flat during the colder months might seem counter-intuitive, but having a well ventilated flat is the best way to avoid dampness and mould, even if it brings up the issue of potentially higher heating costs.

Landlord's repair obligations

Short leases granted on or after the 24 October 1961 benefit from the implied landlord covenants as to repair of the property under Section 11 of the LTA 1985. That means if you are renting a flat, your landlord must repair:

The landlord is also obliged to arrange a gas safety inspection every year and provide tenants with a gas safety certificate.

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