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How to make a claim against your landlord if you suffer damage

If damage occurs to a tenant’s property while they are living in rented accommodation it may be possible to make a claim against the landlord, although it will not be guaranteed as it will partly depend upon the full circumstances around the disrepair.

There are a number of areas for which a landlord will always be responsible, which are the exterior and the main structure of the property; water and gas supply pipes and also electrical wiring; plumbing for sinks, baths, showers and toilets; and finally any fixed heaters within the property, such as gas fires.

The exterior elements that a landlord is responsible for includes the guttering, drains and any external pipes.

For houses the landlord is also to maintain the essential means to access the property, which includes garden paths and any steps that may be included in that.

Where property is deemed to be defective it may be possible to make a claim against the landlord for damages, but as a tenant, the occupier will have had to have complied with their part of the letting contract.

This area of the law is complex and there are a number of acts that relate to this type of claim for damages. The first is the Defective Premises Act of 1972. This Act states that landlords and the tradespeople that they hire must carry out the work safely and properly and under this Act the landlord must accept liability for damage or injury that results from any disrepair.

As they have to accept this liability landlords should also have landlords’ public liability insurance, so that if one of their tenants suffers loss or damage they will be insured for what can be a large pay out.

The Defective Premises Act is only one of the Acts that covers this type of incident. There is also Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, which clearly stipulates who is responsible for each element of a property and what the outcome may be if those responsibilities are not upheld. The tenant does have a responsibility to inform the landlord of any repair jobs that may need carrying out.

The landlord is then bound to investigate those reports and act upon them if the work is required. Should the landlord fail to either respond to the notifications, or fail to carry out the repairs that have been identified, they can be deemed to have been negligent in their role and so will be liable for damages.

Tenants must not forget that they also have responsibilities when they are living in a rented property and that they must make every effort to maintain the property in good condition.

If the damage or loss occurs due to tenant negligence of, for example, not informing the landlord, then the landlord will not be liable. Therefore it is good practice for tenants to ensure that they property and belongings are insured.


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