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Landlord failing to do repairs or reimbursing the tenants

PlumberHere is a question to the blog clinic from Simon (not his real name) who is a tenant:

We are three tenants renting a house and we have been having all manner of difficulties with our landlord and agent.

Basically we had no heating or hot water for a month, we reported it to the agent but they said they couldn’t do anything without the landlord’s permission.

In the end we called out own plumber and paid for him to do the repair, which was not cheap. The agent now says they need the landlord’s permission to reimburse us for the costs, we keep chasing but nothing is happening.

Our question is this: could the agent have done something rather than putting the blame on the landlord? Also, what are implications if we deduct the costs from our rent? We are planning to leave anyway but don’t want arrears to effect our deposit.

Your landlord is in breach of his statutory repairing obligations under s11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985.

So far as the agents are concerned though , although in some cases agents are entitled to get this done, this is not always the case and it may well be that the agents were not entitled to authorise repair work under the terms of their agency agreement.

Even if they had been authorised, it is not the agents who are liable to you – it is the landlord. So any claim is against the landlord and not the agents.

Generally tenants are entitled to recover their costs if they have to get repair work done themselves after the landlord has failed to take action after having been given notice of the disrepair. There is a procedure for this which includes getting three estimates first and passing these on to the landlord, which I don’t think you have followed.

However were you to go to court over this I am pretty sure the Judge would be on your side as being without heating or hot water for a month is no joke.

I would suggest however that you deduct the cost of this and the deposit from your last rent payment. If the agents were to deduct the money from your deposit, I don’t think your claim for the repair work is something that adjudicators can deal with so you would probably have to go to the small claims court to get your money back.

Note that there is guidance on this situation and advice on what you need to do  in the tenants section of my Landlord Law site.

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3 Responses to Landlord failing to do repairs or reimbursing the tenants

  1. It will depend on what service the agent has contracted to provide to the landlord, who is his client. It’s a bit late to give this advice in your case but tenants should always check that before committing to a tenancy.

    I’m not up to speed with English letting legislation but imaging that , as in Scotland, landlords will have a statutory obligation to maintain heating installations fit for purpose. The correct recourse is to rely on that obligation to oblige reimbursement, referring to any trade body the agent may be affiliated to for assistance.

    Unfortunately the obligation to pay rent when due pertains even if landlords are negligent and courts will take a view that “two wrongs don’t make a right”. I’d advise therefore against withholding rent.

    Tenants should always ensure that an agent has some mark of accreditation such as RICS, ARLA or SafeAgent.

    Good luck!


  2. Thanks for the great article Tessa. If I could just chip in. Simon should be ensuring that the Landlord has supplied a valid gas safety certificate (CP12) for the gas appliances in his rented property. The Landlord also has a duty to has all gas appliances regularly serviced too. Take a look at the Gas Safe website for more information.



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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The purpose of this blog is to provide information, comment and discussion. Although Tessa, or guest bloggers, may from time to time, give helpful comments to readers' questions, these can only be based on the information given by the reader in his or her comment, which may not contain all material facts. Any comments or suggestions provided by Tessa or any guest bloggers should not therefore be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice from a qualified lawyer regarding any actual legal issue or dispute.

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