When you’re a tenant, it is crucial that before entering into a new lease you understand the extent of your repairing obligation. Our property solicitors advises that giving this the attention it deserves at the outset and asking a solicitor to review your lease will prevent any unwanted surprises and costs later down the line.
All too often tenants do not fully understand what a full repairing lease requires of them. At the end of their lease they are then presented with an extensive schedule of wants of repair for being in breach of their repairing covenant (known as dilapidations) from their landlord and an eyewatering figure to undertake them. The cost of repairs are as relevant a feature in a tenant’s budget as rent, service charge, business rates and utilities.
An obligation to keep the property in good and substantial repair and condition not only requires a tenant to be responsible for disrepair which occurs during its occupation (which is to be expected) but crucially also requires a tenant to put the property into repair where the disrepair has been caused prior to the tenant’s occupation. Key actions here are inspecting the property and having a survey undertaken.
If a property is in poor condition or where a short term lease is to be taken, a full repairing obligation may not be appropriate and instead consideration should be given to limiting the repair obligation so the tenant hands back the property in no better state of repair and condition than it was at the start of the lease. This should be evidenced by a comprehensive Schedule of Condition with photographs and descriptions of any disrepair present on the grant of the lease.
Finally, if a property is new or has been recently refurbished, thought should to be given to whether any damage caused by inherent defects is specifically excluded from the tenant’s repairing obligation. This should be coupled with an obligation on the landlord to put right such damage or alternatively the tenant should be given direct warranties from the professional teams involved with the construction or refurbishment of the property.
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