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Appeal Court rewrites rented property repair rules
19 May 2015
A new Court of Appeal decision has switched the focus on who is responsible for repairs to letting property.
In Edwards v Kumarasamy, the tenant rented a flat in a block from the landlord, and after tripping on a damaged path to the block, made a claim for compensation to the landlord.
The court allowed the appeal, overturning the traditional view of landlords and letting agents that they are only liable to repairs once reported by the tenant and if they are on the land belonging to the landlord.
The judgment extends that liability to any area the landlord has an ‘estate or interest ‘in.
As the paths, gardens, parking and other common areas around a letting property offer access, even if a landlord does not own the freehold, the landlord has an obligation to keep them under repair, the court ruled.
The court also found that as landlords and letting agents do not need permission from tenants to access common areas, the notion that the tenant should report when a repair is needed does not apply to these areas.
“This is a big deal and will have serious consequences. Any landlord can now be sued for disrepair to areas that serve his or her property irrespective of ownership,” said lawyer David Smith, a partner dealing with landlord and tenant law at solicitors Anthony Gold.
“Clearly the main concern will be disrepair which creates trip and slip hazards and could cause injury, however other matters should also be considered. This will mean that landlords will need to be active in chasing their superior landlords to repair common areas.
“Agents carrying out property inspections should also widen their visit to not just include the rental property but also areas over which the landlord has rights such as paths and driveways. There is no obligation on the tenant to report disrepair so it is up to the landlord or his agent to identify it and act to get it resolved.”
Read the ruling