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Question

Landlord Responsibility for Repairs and Maintenance (England) | Preventing Controlling and Recovering Rent Arrears (England) | Tenant Obligations (England)

Withholding Rent

1 Apr 2016 | 3 comments

I have a Tenant who is withholding rent as the Garage Roof is leaking. This is currently being rectified. I am of the belief that you cannot withhold rent. I am right?
Kind Regards
Debbie

Answer

3 Comments

  1. guildy

    There is no implied right to withhold rent just whilst repairs are being carried out.

    However, the tenant may be entitled to compensation by way of a reduction in the rent for the inconvenience and loss of value. They don’t need to show an actual financial loss.

    There is no breach of repairing duties if the works are carried out with reasonable expedition. If the repairs go beyond that, the way to value the compensation is to ask “how much is the property worth in its current state?”

    I think a garage with a leaking roof is going to be worth very little in its current state so the tenant may be entitled to damages reflecting a larger proportion of the rent. This very much depends on the size of the garage and size of leak etc. Compare for example a four bedroom house with a small leak in one unused bedroom, the proportion of rent would be much lower.

  2. JungleProperty

    T doesn’t have a cast iron case and a few things to consider:
    1. To use ancient common law recoupment rights of self-help and set-off T would need to follow a strict process
    2. Did the defect exist before the start of the tenancy?
    3. L statutory repairing obligations do not extend to detached outbuildings?
    4. Even in the case of Moorjani the maximum % mentioned was 15% and since the garage is not part of the dwelling the argument for compensation equal to or higher than this would be weak

    • guildy

      I read this question to mean it was a garage letting. Fair enough if it’s a house and only the garage part is in disrepair – then the percentage would be much lower.

      In my view repairing extends beyond the dwelling where it is included in the letting – see Edwards v Kumarasamy [2015] EWCA Civ 20. It is noted that case has been given permission to be heard in the Supreme Court so the outcome could change.

      Even if it’s not statutory repairing, I see no reason why it’s not a contractual repairing obligation – after all rent is being paid for it’s use. (It is also noted section 11 simply implies a repairing obligation into a tenancy so is effectively contractual too).

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