Interesting research about tenants and repairs. Also a surprise warning for landlords! The research also highlighted that just a third of tenants would rather deal with a landlord than a letting agent and one in six tenants have experienced bad landlords in the past. However, the good news is that over 80% say their landlord is approachable and friendly and only 12% of tenants claim their landlord has made promises that he/she could not keep.

The recent case of Edwards v Kumarasamy, highlights the legal responsibility that landlords have under the statutory requirements of Landlords Repairing Obligations, part of the Landlord & Tenant Act. Mr Edwards was a tenant renting a flat from Mr Kumarasamy. This case features his claim for compensation, when he tripped on an uneven paving slab on the outside path to the parking and communal bins area.

A new Court of Appeal held that as the landlord had a right to use the path under his lease from the freeholder, he had a sufficient ‘estate or interest’ in the area to satisfy section 11 – and so was liable for the repair. Landlords (and agents when doing inspections) need to monitor the exterior areas of properties to ensure that they are safe and that any necessary repairs are done promptly.

Jane Morris, Managing Director of PropertyLetByUs comments: “There are many professional landlords in the buy-to-let market that are responsive to tenant communications about problems and issues. However, there are a few bad landlords that neglect their tenants and put lives at risk.

Every landlord has a duty of care and should respond to tenants emails and calls with 24 hours if possible. While it may not be possible to deal with repairs immediately, it is important that landlords maintain open communications with their tenants, so they can provide updates on timing etc. Communication is key and the landlord should keep the tenant informed of the action.

Our research shows that the most common cause of complaints are faulty boilers; leaking roofs; faulty showers; mould and condensation; leaking bathroom and window locks; broken windows; smoke alarms; and pests and vermin. Some of these can be very dangerous for the tenants, so it imperative that landlords carry out repairs to their properties within a reasonable time.”

Landlords and agents have a duty of care to advise tenants on the correct course of action while contractors are organised, such as turning off gas taps, water stop cocks or main electricity supplies, to ensure that any problem does not cause danger to life and property.

Any gas or major electrical fault is classed as urgent and should be attended to within 24 hours or less. This also applies when heating or hot water is affected, especially during cold weather.

Cadman Homes, a family owned and run letting agents have gone the extra mile for their landlords to help them avoid such complaints. The Rugby based estate and letting agents offer a 24 hour phone line for reporting and diagnosing maintenance issues and have introduced new software for producing inventories and inspection reports that uploads photos and text whilst “on site” at a property. The document can then be emailed back to the office immediately. This allows contractors to be instructed more quickly and efficiently, and helps them diagnose faults more effectively. All of this helps reduce cost and inconvenience for the landlord and tenant.

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