Entering a Tenanted Flat for Repairs
Landlords need to be aware of the process for accessing tenanted flats to carry out repairs with s11 (ss6) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 reading: ‘in a lease in which the lessor’s repairing covenant is implied there is also implied a covenant by the lessee that the lessor, or any person authorised by him in writing, may at reasonable times of the day and on giving 24 hours’ notice in writing to the occupier, enter the premises comprised in the lease for viewing their condition and state of repair’.
All tenants should be given a procedure to follow when repairs are required and whether the landlord or the letting chooses to be informed verbally or in writing, a record should be kept of all problems reported. Tenants should do the same. Alternatively repair forms can be issued which can be filled in and then passed over for action. If no agent is used there should be an emergency procedure in place such as the issuing of a list of contractors names and numbers. Tenants should never be left with no-one to contact.
Landlords should deal with all repair requests promptly, with the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) outlining the recommended time scales for landlords to respond, depending on the problem:
- Emergency response – gas and water leaks, serious electrical faults;
- 24 Hour response – heating and water systems and other non life threatening electrical problems eg broken windows if not caused by tenant negligence;
- 72 Hour response – kitchen appliances and other items that affect the daily life of a tenant;
- Less urgent responses – broken lawn mowers, a fallen fence panel or a dripping tap.
Note: The landlord can include a sum to cover the cost of repairs in the rent but cannot pass the costs to tenants in the form of a separate service charge.
One of the biggest problems our block has seen is where landlords insist on using the cheapest and most unprofessional contractors they can find. After seeing several visits to the flat next door by what we assumed to be the landlords’ contractors, a major leak saw water pouring from this flat into the flat immediately beneath. It then followed through to the flat beneath that one. We didn’t have the contact details of the tenants and we couldn’t get hold of the landlady, despite leaving repeated messages. When we finally got hold of her she gave permission for us to do what was necessary and bill her accordingly. So our managing agent arranged for a plumber to attend who arrived not long befor the tenants came home from work. On finding the source of the leak, the water was finally turned off.
What made all this worse was that the tenants advised us that they had made a report to the landlady the previous week about water problems but she told them that no one would attend until around a week later!
This leak was the final straw for the tenants and they moved out.
Another tenant moved in and due to shoddy workmanship leaks were again affecting the flat immediately beneath. Again we were invited into the flat as the tenant was somewhat apprehensive about being there on her own nd again our manaing agent sent in their own plumber. The leak was traced to the cold water inlet to the toilet and afer replacing a part and installing a ‘flexihose’ (which has it’s own stopcock) to the cistern the leak stopped. There were also two layers of lino which were taken up to allow the floorboards to dry (they were again soaked right through) but we expected that some or all of them would be replaced. There would still be some water ingress into the flats below due to any ‘pooled’ water getting through but that should be it.
We were also advised that there were no contact numbers for the tenant to use in case of an emergency and a repair to the toilet was carried out only a month or so previously!
Ultimately the tenant didn’t want the tradesmen used by the landlord to continue to enter her property. She was very concerned as to their professional ability to do some work required to the shower based on previous experiences. We contacted the landlady on her behalf and advised that she was not being unreasonable under the circumstances (the landlord was threatening legal action) as she was more than happy for the landlord to visit the property or for our managing agent to send one of their contractors. I also advised that should anyone access the flat without her permission then she would have the right to claim harrassment under the Protection from Harrassment Act 1997. She could also consider a claim for trespass as she has the same rights over the property as owner-occupiers. Ultimately the managing agent sent one of its own contractors, two options for repairs were submitted and one of them was taken (the cheapest). Job done and a victory for the rights of tenants to expect competent contractors to attend and not continually breach the right to ‘quiet enjoyment’. And the landlord never attended the flat during all the time she owned it!!
Landlords wishing to carry out repairs do not have the right to turn up unannounced to check on a property or a tenant. Instead a mutually convenient date and time must be arranged which must be at a reasonable time and after giving the tenant not less than 24 hours notice in writing. More notice can be given if the works are to be prolonged or disruptive and in such cases tenants should be given details of the works to be carried out and a rough idea of a finishing time or completion date
Where a tenant has given permission, but has advised they will not be at the property themselves, it is recommended that landlords/agents are best accompanied by a witness.