A new Court of Appeal decision (in the case of Edwards -v- Kumarasamy) imposes extra repairing and maintenance obligations on landlords of residential properties – and on their agents. This case has decided that –
- Landlords’ legal obligations to keep the ‘structure and exterior’ of rented properties in good repair as imposed by section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985, apply to any area which the landlord has an “estate or interest” – this can include shared access areas for a block of flats (for example), even if the landlord only owns one of the flats in the block and the maintenance of the access areas is, ultimately, the responsibility of the freeholder of the block.
- Further , while a landlord cannot be expected to repair areas inside a flat until the tenant has notified the landlord of the need for repair, this does not apply to areas outside the flat that the landlord (or the landlord’s agent) can see for themselves if they visit.
As a result of this case, landlords can be sued by their tenants for failing to maintain or repair areas that do not belong to them (but over which their property has rights of access), and even if they were not told that repairs were needed. They (or their agents) will need to check the condition not only of their property but also areas that can be used by occupiers of that property, and they will need to chase up their own landlords (or service companies) to carry out repairs to shared areas promptly.
Being a landlord is not an easy option!