Grand -v- Gill  Court of Appeal
We have a Court of Appeal decision on disrepair! As pointed out by Nearly Legal in his report, this is as rare as hens teeth.
The case relates to a number of disrepair issues in a second floor flat in Hillingdon, occupied by Ms Grand and her daughter. The extensive damp and condensation was so bad that the Ms Grand’s daughter was unable to sleep in the second bedroom.
The damage was caused largely by a leaking roof and defective guttering, and it was accepted that the landlord was not responsible for this – the head landlord was.
The condensation was mostly caused by a design fault and again it is accepted that landlords are not responsible for damage caused by design faults under their statutory repairing covenants (as set out in section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985).
In the Court of Appeal
However on the appeal it was pointed out that there were a couple of areas of damaged plaster. This was actually caused by the leaky roof, for which Mr Gill was not resposible. However, argued Ms Grand’s Counsel, the damage was still structural damage for which he is liable under section 11.
Whether landlords are liable for maintaining plasterwork in rented buildings has been a vexed question for years. Is it part of the ‘struture’ which the act says landlords are responsible for keeping in proper repair, or is it merely decoration?
In this case Counsel for Ms Grand successfully argued that the plasterwork DID form part of the structure of the property, and therefore her award was increased to take account of this.
How it affects you
So if there is a problem with the plasterwork in your rented property, you can now be sure that this is considered part of the structure of the property and your landlord is liable for its repair.
The landlord cannot fob you off by saying that it is merely decorative and therefore (in the absence of anything in the tenancy agreement to the contrary) down to you.