This article first appeared in the October 2020 edition of stronger, ALARM’s member journal. ALARM is a membership organisation run by members, for members, supporting risk professionals that support our communities and citizens.
Landlords have a duty to repair the structure and exterior of premises, which includes the supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation where the landlord knows or ought to have known about the defect. Repairing obligations continued unchanged throughout lockdown and remain. Tenants should report repairs as early as possible so landlords can take appropriate action.
Disrepair claims will continue and as always, responding swiftly to them is critical. However, lockdown and an expected backlog of repairs presents challenges. Communication and cooperation between landlords and tenants is important, and should be documented to demonstrate reasons for any delays to inspect or repair.
Government advice to both landlords and tenants is to take a pragmatic, common-sense approach to resolving issues. This is likely to be the Courts’ approach to claims where landlords have had difficulty carrying out repairs, balanced with the health and safety of tenants, housing officers and tradespersons, during the COVID-19 pandemic.