RE: WILLIAM WORDSWORTH OPINION 1. I am asked to advise Mr. Wordsworth as to the extent of his landlord’s duty to keep the premises in repair and as to his landlord’s liability if in breach of that duty, as well as the damages Mr. Wordsworth is likely to recover following his landlord’s breach of duty.
Facts 2. Mr. Wordsworth has started a lease for a term of 3 years on the 4 th January 1974. Since October 2001 Mr. Wordsworth has encountered certain problems regarding his roof and gutters which have started to leak and pour into the house. The pouring water has been affecting the internal plaster, to the extent that part of his bedroom ceiling has collapsed, damaging his carpet underneath and a dressing table.
Mr. Wordsworth has also been having problems with his windows, particularly those in this bathroom and in his kitchen which are very difficult and dangerous to open. Despite several requests, Mr. Wordsworth’s complaints have never been dealt with properly, leaving the premises in a state of disrepair. Summary of advice 3. In my opinion, the landlord will have an obligation to repair the roof as well as the gutters under the implied terms set out in S.
11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (LTA 1985).
The landlord is also very likely to be found liable for the damage to the plaster ceiling and be therefore required to provide for damages in respect of the repairs to be undertaken to the ceiling and the consequential losses to the carpet and the table. Regarding the windows, however, the landlord will only be under a duty to repair those found in the bathroom and the kitchen and not those around the house. Liability 4.
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There is nothing in the lease agreement which expressly states the landlord’s duty to repair any particular part of the house. However, LTA 1985 can be used in cases where a lease has been granted after the 24 th October 1961 for a term of less than 7 years. Mr. Wordsworth’s lease has begun on the 4 th January 1974 for a term of 3 years and therefore falls within the application of the LTA 1985. S 11 of the LTA 1985 provides for certain obligations which will apply as implied covenants in the lease, whereby the landlord will be under an implied duty “to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling house (including drains, gutters and external pipes) ” The roof: 5. There could be some arguments as to whether the roof would fall part of the structure of the dwelling house or whether it would be part of the demise to Mr.
Wordsworth. From the expert’s evidence, it seems that the roof space is a consequence of the external design of the house and is void and uninhabitable. However, it was also found that Mr. Wordsworth does keep a small number of his possessions in the roof area and is the only one to have access to it. In my opinion, although access to the roof space was only available via Mr. Wordsworth’s accommodation that roof space may not have been demised to Mr.
Wordsworth. Indeed, if this was the case, Mr. Wordsworth would have been keeping much more of his belongings in it and not just a small number of his possessions. Consequently, basing myself from the expert’s findings, I am of opinion that the roof space itself would be part of the external structure of the house and therefore fell under the landlord’s obligation to repair the roof. 6.
It seems from the evidence that the roof has suffered damage during the storm in October 2001. In circumstances of tempest, flood, or fire, S 11 (1 B) of the LTA 1985 does not oblige the landlord to “rebuild or reinstate the premises in the case of destruction or damage… .” This argument could be brought forward by the landlord in trying to relieve himself from his duty to repair the roof. However, the wordings of S. 11 (1 B) only cater for rebuilding or reinstating the premises in cases of destruction or damage.
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The implied obligation under S 11 LTA 1985 is to keep in “repair” and not to rebuild or reinstate. Therefore, the landlord will not be able to rely on S. 11 (1 B) of LTA 1985. The landlord’s obligation to repair is usually to keep the premises “reasonable fit for the occupation” as set out in C althorpe v Mc Oscar  1 KB 716. Although it is said that the landlord did send some people to conduct some repairs, it seems these repairs have not been adequate and the roof is still leaking. As a matter of fact, the landlord will still be under a duty to carry out the repairs to a reasonably standard so as to prevent the roof from leaking.
The gutters: 7. The duty to keep in repair the gutters is clearly set out in S. 11 of LTA 1985. The landlord will therefore be under an implied obligation to keep the gutters clear from any vegetation or any blockage and prevent the gutters from overflowing in rainy periods. The ceiling: 8.
The expert evidence clearly shows that the ceiling has been suffering from the water coming from the leaking roof and gutters. In order to have the landlord conduct the necessary repairs to the collapsed plaster ceiling, the ceiling would have to be part of the structure of the house, and therefore fall within the ambit of S. 11 LTA 1985. However, basing myself on the Queen’s Bench’s decision in Irvine v Morgan  EGLR 261 QB, I am of opinion that the plaster will only be part of the interior of the house and not of the exterior structure, being purely a decorative finish.
Therefore, Mr. Wordsworth will not be able to have the landlord repair the ceiling plaster. However, Mr. Wordsworth will be able to claim from the landlord, the amount for the necessary repairs to be carried out.
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The windows: 9. It was found in Irvine v Morgan  EGLR 261 QB that windows form part of the structure of a house. In those circumstances, there will be an implied obligation for the landlord to repair the windows under S. 11 of LTA 1985. It seems from the evidence provided that most of the window sashes are loose and draughty. However, the expert evidence shows that these are deficiencies due to their age and design.
Under these circumstances, Mr. Wordsworth will not be able to claim for these windows to be repaired as these defects are purely design defects and were there since the lease has begun. However, the main concerns of Mr. Wordsworth are regarding the windows found in the kitchen and bathroom.
Those windows seem to be in a worse condition as they were before and would not open or are potentially hazardous to operate. These clearly constitute disrepair and the landlord would therefore be under a duty to repair them. Remedies 10. Specific performance: Mr.
Wordsworth could issue a mandatory injunction asking for specific performance, which will have in effect to compel the landlord to carry out the necessary repairs. 1. The roof needs to be weather proofed and tiles added to the necessary areas, s 11 (3).
The gutters need to be cleared of all vegetation and / or other possible source of blockage. 3. The kitchen and bathroom windows need to be replaced as they are not impossible to open and are causing gaps through which draughts pass. 11.
Damages: Special damages: Mr. Wordsworth will also be entitled to recover the costs for having the plaster redone, as well as the costs of the carpet and table. General damages: Mr. Wordsworth will also be entitled to the difference in value of the lease from the date of the breach to the date of the assessment of the damages. Alternatively, Mr. Wordsworth may be entitled to a compensation for inconvenience and discomfort of living in such premises.
Further Steps 12. Would Instructing Solicitors please request the following evidence? : 1. The costs of the repairs to the ceiling 2. The cost of carpet 3. The cost of the dressing table 13. In my opinion, the amount of damages in this action will not be exceeding lb 15, 000.
Therefore, I would advise to issue proceedings in the County Court.
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