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The Lettings Specialists, Surrey and Sussex

Expert Property Advice

What is a ‘Tenant-like Manner’ and why is it important?

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1987

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 sets out various rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 sets out who is responsible for repairing a property, whilst it is being rented. Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 the term ‘keep in repair’ is used and requires the landlord to keep up the standard of repair or put the property in repair if it is not at the start of the tenancy.

However, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 does not, under the repair obligations, impose a duty to effect improvements.

The Housing Act 1988

The Housing Act 1988 is the law that governs the Private Rental Sector (PRS) and those who operate within it. This sets out the statutory rights and legal responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. While a tenancy agreement is a legal contract between the two parties involved in a rental transaction, specifying the terms of the individual tenancy (such as its length and the amount of rent owed each month), the Housing Act is there to stipulate the conditions within the tenancy agreement.

Case Law

What is Case Law: By deciding a disputed point of law a senior court can change or clarify the law, thereby setting a precedent which other courts are bound to follow or apply in later cases. To add to the varying pieces of legislation and statutory law that establish the framework of how letting agents, tenants and landlords should behave, there is also case law to consider, which is emerging all the time.

Case Law: 1954 Warren v Keen

The term ‘tenant-like manner’ relates to the court case of Warren v Keen in 1953/1954 and is still applicable to this day. Lord Denning stated that:

“The tenant must take proper care of the premises. He must, if he is going away for the winter, turn off the water and empty the boiler; he must clean the chimneys when necessary and also the windows; he must mend the electric light when it fuses; he must unstop the sink when it is blocked by his waste. In short, he must do the little jobs around the place which a reasonable tenant would do. In addition, he must not, of course, damage the house wilfully or negligently… but apart from such things, if the house falls into disrepair through fair wear and tear or lapse of time or for any reason not caused by him, the tenant is not liable to repair it.”

This means that, under case law, the tenant is expected to carry out small jobs around the property themselves, which the landlord is not responsible for. Some such items have been incorporated into our tenancy agreements. (Unblocking drainage, removing pests to name a few).

Ross is Director of Knights Estate Agents and has a wealth of industry knowledge.

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