For years tenants have been complaining that landlords and agents don’t deal with repairs properly. Now this is changing with new rules and legislation coming into effect.
The first, surprise, change is ushered in by the Court of Appeal decision in Edwards v. Kumarasamy, where the Court held that
- tenants do not need to give notice of repair issues, if the problem lies outside their flat or house, and also that
- the repairing covenants in s11 apply also to common areas even if the landlord does not own or control these, provided he has a legal right to use them
However far greater changes will come with the Deregulation Act (which looks set to come into law).
The Deregulation Bill
This picks up the anti-retaliatory eviction measures from Sarah Teather’s recent unsuccessful Tenancies (Reform) Bill. Here are some important points:
- Tenants need to report repair issues in writing for the measures to be effective, but the bill does not say this has to be in English
- Landlords / agents will be under an obligation to respond to the written request within 14 days – and the legislation says that an adequate response is one which states the remedial action that will be taken and sets out a reasonable period for that remedial action
- If the Local Authority then serves an improvement notice on the landlord (category 1 & 2 hazards) the landlord will not be able to serve a valid section 21 notice for six months, save where exceptions apply.
I am not going to go into the detail of this as the bill is not law yet and could change.
However it is clear that landlords are going to have to sort out their procedures for dealing with repairs claims and put a reliable system in place.
Consider the Fixflo service
In this context you may want to consider the service provided by Fixflo.
Fixflo is an online reporting system for repairs issues in tenanted properties. However it is more than that:
- It has details of repair issues to inform tenants so they know which things they should report and which they are responsible for repairing themselves
- It provides a quick and easy way for tenants to report issues and for landlords / agents to respond
- Messages are time and date stamped which will avoid disputes about whether or not a landlord responded within the time limit
- The system information is provided in 40 different languages and the system will also translate messages to make it easier for people speaking different languages to understand one another
Fixflo is now being used by many letting agencies and portfolio landlords.
However, if you are just a small landlord and don’t need the full functionality of their enterprise system, they offer a free “Lite” version for landlords who self-manage one or two properties. This system is available at www.tenantrepair.com
Fixflo will be attending the Landlord Law Conference in Cambridge on 14 April as exhibitors, so if you are going to the Conference this will be an excellent opportunity for you to talk to them and see their system in action.