Government’s ‘How to Rent’ guidance updated again
What rights do I have to get my rental property repaired?
A recent case has shown the extent to which courts will assist tenants in ensuring that the property which they are occupying is put into the standard of repair the tenant signed up to when it took a lease of the property. The case also highlights some useful guidance for landlords regarding their repairing responsibilities when granting a lease of a property.
Case study: Blue Manchester Ltd v North West Ground Rents Ltd
While this case concerns a lease of a high value hotel, nevertheless the principles which the court applied provide useful guidance. In this case the tenant took a long lease of a state-of-the-art iconic glass structure hotel for a £60m premium.
The landlord was obliged in the lease “to keep in good and substantial repair and… to reinstate, replace and renew where appropriate … the common parts of the building”. The common parts included the external façade of the building. The sealant which was used to attach the glass panels to the façade failed, and the landlord undertook a temporary fix by screwing stitched pressure plates to the window frames in order to keep the panels in position. The temporary fix was only supposed to last for three years, however, after the three years past, the landlord refused to carry out any further works of repair, saying that the building was not in disrepair because the temporary fix was holding up.
The tenant, dismayed by the disruption caused by problems with the windows, frustrated by the landlord’s refusal to provide a permanent like-for-like replacement and dismayed by the shocking appearance of the patchwork repairs to the state-of-the-art building, took the landlord to court to ensure that the landlord undertook proper remedial works to provide a proper permanent solution.
Landlord ordered to undertake repair works
The court said that the stitch plates were only designed to last for three years. As such, the glass panels were not in good or substantial repair resulting in a breach of the repairing covenant. Furthermore, as the stitch plates were not in accordance with the original design and required regular maintenance which disrupted the tenant’s business, the remedial action which the landlord had taken was inadequate and unacceptable. The court also held that the aesthetic appearance of the building was also an important factor to be taken into account. Accordingly, the court ordered the landlord to remove the stitch plates and replace the original glass panels so that they matched the original external appearance. The landlord was also ordered to pay damages to the tenant due to the length of time the temporary fix had remained in place.
Why is this case important?
While courts are generally reluctant to order a landlord to repair a property, the court appreciated that simply awarding the tenant damages would deny the tenant the benefit of the price which it had paid for having a state of the art building, and therefore ensured that the landlord complied with their repairing obligations by actually ordering the landlord to carry out the repair works.
If you are having difficulty with repair issues at your property and want to know what remedies are available, please contact our property and land disputes team.
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