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Property Management: The Clock Starts Now!

Property Technology Blog

FACT:  Landlords are responsible for certain repairs in rented properties.
PROBLEM: There is no minimum level of detail required to trigger those responsibilities.

In this short article Rajeev Nayyar of Fixflo looks at the trigger point for landlords’ repair responsibilities under s11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 ( s11).

If you manage properties of your own or on behalf of someone else this affects you. 

Background

s11 places certain repair responsibilities on landlords.  In broad terms these relate to a property’s structure, utilities, sanitation, heating and hot water.  

If you own or manage rented residential property then you need to know the rules (and exclusions) in detail.  For the purpose of this article we will assume that you know them already but if you don’t click here to see the legislation.

The upshot of s11 is that for qualifying tenancies (broadly those with a term of fewer than 7 years) irrespective of what the tenancy document says those repair responsibilities remain with the landlord.

This remains the case even if a landlord pays a professional property manager to manage their property.  

The Ticking Clock

In the House of Lords case of O'Brien v Robinson [1973] AC 912 it was held that a landlord has to be notified of the need for repair before the obligations under s11 are triggered.

However, there is no minimum level of detail that is needed to trigger the obligations.  For example, if a tenant calls or emails their landlord (or the landlord’s appointed property manager) stating that their hot water is not working, then the landlord would be required to carry out the repair within a reasonable time. [Note: S11 contains various criteria which contribute to the assessment of what would be a reasonable time]

However, with the paucity of information in that example it is likely that the property would have to be inspected to understand the problem before a second visit to fix it with the requisite parts and equipment.

Faster Repairs Benefit Landlords Too

Each additional stage that is required before a repair can be carried out increases the delay in it being fixed and the scope for further damage to a property.

It is of note that property insurance policies normally require a landlord to mitigate their loss.  This means that landlords should act quickly to minimise the monetary value of a claim but given the time involved in assessing the cause of the damage this can be difficult.

In addition, delays in carrying out repairs damage the landlord/tenant relationship.  In research carried out by Savills and YouGov, a quarter of tenants surveyed moved out of their last rental home because of poor management.  

Renewed tenancies eliminate void periods and reduce transaction costs for landlords.  As such, the quality of a property management (or if outsourced a property manager) can directly impact a landlord’s return from their investment.

Increasing Importance

In the run-up to the General Election it looks likely that the speed and quality of repairs will take on increasing importance.  The proposed Tenants’ Charter (announced by the Homes and Communities Agency in December) includes:
  • the right for tenants to raise repair requests without fear of eviction; 
  • the ability for Councils to penalise landlords who provide sub-standard accommodation; and 
  • a centrally set minimum standard of repair for rental properties. 
In addition, the Mayor of London’s Private Rented Sector covenant proposes that emergency repairs should be carried out on the day that they are notified to a landlord and urgent repairs should be carried out within 3 days of notification to a landlord.

About Fixflo

By guiding tenants to identify their precise issue, Fixflo gets you the information you need about a repair without time consuming calls, emails and inspections. 

This allows quicker repairs, a higher service level and greater efficiency.

Fixflo is being used by letting agencies and property managers across the UK.

To find out more visit: www.fixflo.com
Zahraa Valu

Written by Zahraa Valu

Leaseholds | Letting Agent Tips | Landlord Tips | Repairs and Maintenance Software

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