Can a landlord charge tenants for repairs where replacement may be more reasonable?
In De Havilland Studios Ltd v Peries & another , the landlord proposed undertaking repair works to windows at the property. The tenants felt that the windows should be replaced rather than repaired, and they made an application to the First-tier Tribunal in which they sought a determination as to whether they were liable for the costs of repairs.
The First-tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal needed to assess whether repairs and replacement works could both be described as ‘reasonable’ options and, if so, whether the Courts were entitled to interfere with the decision of the landlord.
The court held that the landlord’s decision to repair was reasonable; both repair and replacement were reasonable options for the landlord to take. Because of the reasonableness of the landlord’s option, it was a decision for the landlord to take as to whether it repaired or replaced and the costs of the repair works could be recovered from the tenants.
Advice and action for landlords
This is a useful case, reassuring landlords that, where there are a number of reasonable options available to them in maintaining a property, they are entitled to make the choice most suited to them and that costs for such works will be recoverable from leaseholders.
Landlords should be mindful of giving careful consideration to all options, assessing whether outcomes from each will be reasonable. For example, one option may be cheaper but will it be in the best interests of tenants and leaseholders? Will works cause any particular inconvenience? If the outcomes of a decision can be shown as being reasonable, the landlord has solid grounds for recovering the costs from leaseholders.
Landlords are reassured that, where there are a number of reasonable options available to them, they are entitled to make the choice most suited to them and that costs for works will be recoverable from leaseholders.