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Landlord and tenant repair liabilities

A recent Court of Appeal decision on the liability of repairs to the exterior of a building stated that the freeholder was responsible for keeping communal areas in good condition, subject to receiving notice of a defect, under the terms of the head lease.

In the case where a Sub-Tenant of a flat tripped on an uneven pathway, despite the Intermediate Landlord having no awareness of the defect, the Court held that an implied repairing covenant applied to the Intermediate Landlord.  This meant that as soon as the Sub-Tenant had tripped, the Intermediate Landlord became liable for not having dealt with the repair that they were unaware of.

So, whilst the Head Landlord (who owns the freehold of a property) is responsible for the upkeep of communal areas, buy-to-let owners of leasehold and other types of Intermediate Landlords may find that they are liable for repairs to these areas.

The only reasonable provision that Intermediate Landlords can take is to keep an eye on the exterior and communal conditions of their leasehold property.  However, in some cases it may prove impossible to be made aware of and to deal with any defects in sufficient time, as liability for the repairs applies as soon as injuries or damages occur.