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Is the condition of private rented properties deteriorating?

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It has been reported this week that tenants who rent from private sector landlords are living in poor conditions and that the condition of privately rented accommodation has deteriorated. This is at a time when more reliance than ever is placed on private sector housing.

Tenants have the option of claiming compensation to offset against rent if they rent a property which suffers from genuine disrepair. The compensation can outweigh the amount of rent payable if the tenant suffers an injury as a result of the disrepair.

Disrepair may be highlighted by reference to the tenancy agreement or by legislation. The usual areas covered are the structure and exterior of the property; baths, sinks and sanitary ware; and hot water and heating. To make things more difficult for private landlords there is a whole host of safety legislation to comply with from gas safety to electrical safety regulations.

Private landlords or their agents should invest time into their properties to ensure they meet the safety criteria and the necessary certificates are in place. Landlords should ask tenants to inspect the property at the outset of a tenancy and to sign to agree that the property is in good condition. Inspections during the tenancy can also be a good idea to ensure that properties are maintained and do not fall into disrepair. Landlords should keep records of the inspections. Complaints raised by tenants over the condition of a property should be taken seriously and investigated by a professional surveyor if necessary. Once a landlord becomes aware of disrepair a duty to carry out the repair arises.

If the tenant intimates that a claim is likely then landlords should obtain legal advice as soon as possible.

By residential landlord solicitor, Louise Hebborn