Here is a question to the blog clinic from Alan (not his real name) who is a tenant.
We have privately rented a property for the last seven years. After a 12-month short term tenancy agreement this has been a periodic tenancy, so am now unsure of my rights in the following situation.
Our porchway front door was caught by a gust of wind and has broken off at the hinges. It was a freak accident and not caused through improper use, however the landlord has said his insurance does not cover this and we should be prepared to pay for the repair or have it taken from our deposit.
Citizens Advice have informed me that Section 11 of the Landlords & Tenants Act 1985 says that the landlord is responsible for the repair.
The CAB are correct.
Section 11 will apply to you as it applies to all tenancies with a term of less than seven years. It requires landlords to keep in repair the ‘structure and exterior’ of the property along with installations for the supply of various services.
A porch will be part of the ‘structure and exterior’ of the property and so the landlord cannot require you to pay for any repairs to this (unless the damage was actually caused by you). The cost of repair is down to him.
Whether or not it is covered by his insurance is irrelevant.
If the landlord pays for the repair and then takes the cost from your deposit when you leave, you should challenge this and ask for it to be referred to your deposit scheme adjudicators, as it is not something he is entitled to make a deduction for.
If you pay for the repair then (assuming you follow the proper procedure) you are legally entitled to deduct the cost from your rent.
However, in that case, you should NOT refer any deduction from your deposit to your deposit scheme adjudication, as it will technically be for non-payment of rent and deposit adjudicators will find for the landlord.
In those circumstances, you should claim any deductions back through the small claims court as County Court Judges will be able to deal with this issue and will probably find for you.