The Expert Witness
JAC LTD has compiled over 250 'undisputed' Expert Witness Reports (EWR) and continues to do so on a daily basis for some of the countries largest social housing associations and private claims consultants in the South East Of England.
JAC LTD has the professional (EWR) knowledge and is pleased to act impartially for both sides, be it the Claimant (Tenant) or Defendant (Landlord) who wishes to pursue a disrepair claim for damages via their legal representative or solicitor under the current Landlord and Tenant Act (LTA) 1985.
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 places an obligation on the landlord to maintain the structure and exterior of the property, including installations for the supply of water, gas and electricity, heating systems, drainage and sanitary appliances.
There are a number of statutory implied terms which dictate your repair obligations as landlord. The most important of these is Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (which replaced s32 of the Housing Act 1961) which states that the landlord shall keep in repair:
- The structure and exterior of the dwelling.
- The installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation.
- The installations for the supply of space heating and water heating.
- The communal areas and installations associated with the dwelling.
- The required repair will vary depending on the age, character, and prospective life of the property and its' location.
This means the landlord need not maintain a run-down property in an inner city area to the same high standards expected in an expensive central London apartment.
Landlords or people authorised by them, also have the right to view the condition and state of repair of the property on giving the tenant 24 hours notice [in writing and at a reasonable time of day].
If a tenant refuses to allow the landlord access to carry out the repairs then they:
- Reduce their entitlement to claim for damages for disrepair or for personal injury caused by the disrepair.
- Expose themselves to a potential claim for loss suffered by the landlord as a consequence of the landlord being unable to prevent further deterioration or damage to the property.
- This may result in monies being deducted from the damage deposit.
Does the landlord have the right of entry?
There is an implied term in tenancy agreements under the Rent Act 1977 and the Housing Act 1988 that the tenant will let the landlord have access to the property,
and all reasonable facilities, to carry out repairs which he or she is entitled to do.
Landlord and Tenant Act (LTA) 1985 requires specific performance by the landlord where there has been a breach, i.e. the payment of compensation will not act as sufficient remedy. This means that the County Court can make an order requiring the landlord to fulfil the express or implied repairing terms of the tenancy agreement.
Section 20 Notice (Disrepair Surveyor)
Section 20 of the Landlord & Tenant Act (LTA) 1985 (as amended by the Commonhold & Leasehold Reform Act 2002) sets out the three-stage consultation procedure with which to follow when carrying out qualifying works to your building.
For qualifying works, under Section 20 you would be required to serve a “Notice of Intention to Carry Out Works” upon all lessees. The Notice must generally describe the proposed works, state the reasons for considering the proposed works, and invite leaseholders to make written observations within 30 days. The correspondence address for observations should be stated within the Notice as well. The importance of the Notice of Intention is that it offers lessees with the opportunity to provide the name of a contractor from whom the Landlord/RMC should try to obtain an estimate for the proposed works.
At the expiration of the 30 day consultation period, at least two estimates should be obtained: one of these estimates must be from a person completely independent of the Landlord/RMC. If nominations were made within the consultation period, then estimates should have been obtained from at least one of these nominations. The Landlord/RMC must then provide a “Statement of Estimates” which sets out the details of estimates that have been obtained and a summary of observations received within the consultation period. Any estimates that have been obtained must be available for inspection by the lessees, including estimates obtained from nominated contractors. A “Notice to Accompany the Statement of Estimates” must also be served in conjunction with the Statement of Estimates, which sets out the hours and place where details of the estimates may be inspected, inviting lessees to make written observations on the estimates within 30 days, specifying the address to which those observations should be sent.
If, at the expiration of the consultation period, the chosen contractor did not provide the lowest estimate, then a “Notice of Reasons” must be served upon all lessees. This essentially states the Landlord’s/RMC’s reasons for awarding the contract. It is worth noting that if a nominee is chosen to carry out the works, and they didn’t provide the lowest estimate, then although the requirements of Section 20 have been fulfilled, it would be prudent to serve a Notice of Reasons because that estimate could be tested for reasonableness by the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) under Section 19 of the 1985 Landlord & Tenant Act.
For long-term agreements, the procedure is essentially the same, however Stage 2 is referred to as a Notice of Proposals. For instance, an agreement such as an intercom maintenance contract isn’t just about the cost of the maintenance, but the number of visits per year, frequency of visits, number of staff per visit, inclusions/exclusions of service etc.
In the event that the consultation procedure is not followed correctly and the Landlord/RMC is successfully challenged at the LVT, then the maximum amount recoverable from lessees under the service charge is £250 for major works and £100 for long-term agreements.
Repairs - what are the landlord's responsibilities?
- Your landlord has to do anything your tenancy agreement says they have to do.
- Your landlord is also generally responsible for keeping in repair:
- the structure and exterior of your home, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors, basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework, water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.
- These repair responsibilities can't be removed by anything your tenancy agreement says. Also, your landlord isn't allowed to pass on the cost of any repair work to you which is their responsibility.
- Your landlord only has to make repairs when they know there’s a problem - so make sure you tell them about any repairs that are needed.
For tenancies that began on or after 15 January 1989, these repair responsibilities extend to the common parts of a building too, for example, entrance halls, stairs and lifts.
If your home isn’t safe for you to live in.
If your home isn’t safe to live in, it might be ‘unfit for human habitation’ - this includes shared parts of the building like entrance halls and stairs.
Your landlord usually has to make sure your home is fit for human habitation if any of the following apply:
- You agreed or renewed your current tenancy on or after 20 March 2019.
- Your tenancy had a fixed term which ended on or after 20 March 2019 and you’re still in the property.
- You moved from a starter or introductory tenancy to another type of tenancy with the same landlord on or after 20 March 2019.
Your home might be unfit for human habitation if for example:
- It has a serious problem with damp or mould.
- It gets much too hot or cold.
- There are too many people living in it.
- it’s infested with pests like rats or cockroaches.
- it doesn’t have a safe water supply.
It doesn’t matter if the problem was there at the start of the tenancy or only appeared later.
Make sure to tell your landlord about any repairs that are needed. Your landlord only has to do the repairs when they know there’s a problem - unless it’s a problem with a part of the building your landlord still controls, like the roof or the entrance hall.
Your landlord doesn’t have to make sure your home’s fit for human habitation if you caused the problem by:
- Not looking after your home properly - for example not using the extractor fan after having a shower.
- Doing something unreasonable - for example leaving candles burning when you go out.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re not sure if your home’s fit for human habitation.
Negligence is generally about your landlord causing you injury or damage as a result of their careless or negligent behaviour.
For example, your landlord may be negligent if they didn’t do the repair work needed in your home after you told them about it, and as a result you injured yourself or your belongings were damaged. They could also be negligent if they did do the repair work, but did it carelessly or dangerously.
A private nuisance happens when something in another property or in a common part of a building which is owned by your landlord, affects the use and enjoyment of your home. For example, if your landlord didn't maintain pipes in the roof space of your block of flats and water leaked into your home causing damage. In this instance, you could take action against the landlord based on nuisance.
Your landlord mustn't cause a statutory nuisance. A statutory nuisance happens when your home is in such a state as to be harmful to your health or is a nuisance.
Disrepair that's harmful to your health could include dampness and mould growth.
Local authorities generally take action against landlords where there's a statutory nuisance.
The Defective Premises Act 1972
Your landlord owes you certain duties of care that are set out in this Act. They include a duty to prevent personal injury or damage to property caused by defects in your home. This duty is owed to you, members of your family, and also to visitors to your home.
The duty is owed where your landlord is under an obligation to repair or maintain your home, or has a right to enter the property to carry out maintenance or repairs.
The duty is owed if the landlord knows or ought to have known about the repair, even if you haven't told your landlord.
Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)
If you live in a HMO, your landlord has extra legal responsibilities on fire and general safety, water supply and drainage, gas and electricity, waste disposal, and general upkeep of the HMO.
A HMO generally covers houses divided into bedsitting rooms with shared facilities, shared houses and flats, hostels and bed and breakfast hotels that accommodate more than one household.
Some (HMOs) may also need a licence.
Safety in your home
Your landlord has specific responsibilities for gas and electrical safety, furnishings and asbestos.
Making adjustments if you're disabled
If you're disabled, your landlord may have a duty to make reasonable adjustments if you ask for them. However, your landlord doesn’t have to do anything that would involve the removal or alteration of physical features.
Rest assured JAC LTD uses the latest specialist equipment including Flir Thermal Imaging cameras (TIC) producing high resolution infrared images and the latest non invasive Protimeter Surveymaster 2 moisture meters to identify condensation and penetration dampness plus Protimeter Hygrometers to detect for relative humidity/ambient temperature and calculate the dew point, to first ascertain if condensation was likely, which can be used legally to confirm for the courts, when required, factual and undisputable evidence of all (the LTA) defect/s identified by the inspecting EWR Surveyor.
Protimeter Surveymaster 2 Moisture Meter
FLIR E6 Thermal Imaging Camera
FLIR thermal imaging cameras (TIC), essential infrared image recording for the following;
Day to day maintenance
Fire damage reinstatement works
Hot works safety on site
Insurance assessments & claims
Planned & cyclical maintenance
Schedules of dilapidation
Section 11 Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 Expert Witness Reports