Tips for registered providers - disrepair claims

As a registered provider it is important to know how to avoid being faced with a disrepair claim and how to protect yourself in the event that a disrepair claim is pursued against you. If you do find yourself caught up in a disrepair dispute there are some steps you can take to ensure that the legal proceedings are as stress free as possible and to give you the best possible chance.

Our specialist registered provider solicitors are able to help if you do find yourself at the centre of a disrepair claim. Call us on 0175 321 6399 or fill in our enquiry form as early as possible to have the best possible chance of disproving the claim and protecting your reputation.

 

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Know what your obligations are as a landlord

As a landlord you have legal obligations regarding disrepair as set out in The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. It is however likely that your tenancy agreements have terms that go above and beyond the legal requirement. It is important that if they do go above and beyond what is required of you from a legal point of view, you must still stand by your responsibilities outlined in the tenancy agreements. If you are not willing to stand by the agreement you should consider having your tenancy agreement document redrafted in order to avoid exposure to potential claims in the future.

Keep records

As a landlord you are expected to keep good  records of any correspondence or complaints from your tenants as well as detailed records of any works done to the property. These records can be the difference between winning or losing your case. You should keep in mind when working on any record that it could one day be used as evidence in court and so it should be as detailed as possible and filed correctly – this will make any case against you easier to defend.

It is common for tenants to have very little records or contemporaneous notes of complaints made and so could struggle to prove that the disrepair went unanswered. A judge determining the case is likely to find good records compelling.

Act quickly

When a tenant complains about disrepair the best thing you can do as a landlord is to act quickly. Disrepair claims can be defended if you can prove that you acted quickly upon any reports of disrepair and that any improvement works carried out were done so within a reasonable time period. 

‘Reasonable time period’ is defined by the nature of the repair and can be a difficult point to argue and so it is best to arrange for the works to commence as quickly as possible. Acting quickly is the easiest way to defend a disrepair claim or better still avoid any disrepair claim in the first instance.

Consider the impact of your decision        

When faced with a disrepair claim the value of the claim and the costs of defending it must be considered.  Registered providers should be cautious about making decisions solely based upon proportionality to avoid further unmerited claims being brought. You should however consider this along with the merits of your defence to determine whether early settlement is appropriate. There is no easy answer as each disrepair case is different and each must be considered on its own facts in order to make an informed decision on what the next step should be.

You should also consider whether your policy on dealing with disrepair claims needs amending or whether it has been followed.

Ensure that your contractors understand the law

It is a good idea to offer some basic disrepair claims training to your contractors.Their role can be crucial in helping to defend a disrepair claim. They should understand the importance of keeping records throughout the works being completed as these records could be crucial in the defending of a claim in court. Therefore, as a landlord you should routinely check any documentation you receive from your contractors and ensure that you clear up any errors or areas of uncertainty immediately.

Our solicitors have a wealth of experience of defending landlords in disrepair claims. Call our legal experts today on 0175 321 6399 or fill in our online enquiry form and we will be in touch with you shortly.

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