Property uninhabitable - who pays?

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The Adjudication Digest takes a recent decision by a TDS Adjudicator and sets out the reasoning behind the decision. The aim of these Digest reports is to help tenants, landlords and agents gain a better understanding of how we make our adjudication decisions. The names of the landlords and tenants involved have been removed and this is only a brief summary of the dispute.

This dispute was raised by the Agent. 

Amount of deposit in dispute: £425.00

Award made:

Tenant £425.00

Landlord £0.00

Agent £0.00

The landlord claims £425.00 for rent arrears for a period of 26 days, during which time the tenants did not live in the property, as a result of extensive damage caused by a leak from the property above. The landlord advised that although initially the owner of the property above, from where the leak originated, had agreed to be responsible for the ‘lost’ rent for the period claimed, this arrangement fell through and the landlord now wished to claim the rent from the tenants.
 
The leak in the property above occurred in May causing the walls and carpets of the subject property to become extensively damaged. The landlord paid for two nights’ accommodation for the tenants and installed de-humidifiers in order to attempt to remove the moisture from the property. The tenants returned to the property two days later and considered the property to be uninhabitable due to the very strong smell of damp. The tenants sought alternative accommodation. The landlord and agent attended the property again and acknowledged that the property smelt heavily of damp.

In the Dispute Response Form submitted by the agent, it was stated ‘Both (the agent) and landlord’s representative advised property was uninhabitable and they would discuss rent coverage with the above landlords due to tenants being unable to live in property’.

The tenancy agreement contained a clause which provided that in the event the property becomes uninhabitable by flood then the ‘…parties will consider this agreement frustrated and terminated…’  The Adjudicator made no award.  

So what are the key points here?

The Adjudicator found in this case, that (i) the evidence showed that both the landlord and agent did not consider the tenants were in any way responsible for the damage to the property (ii) regardless of the agreement made with the owner of the property above, in relation to the payment of ‘lost’ rent, the evidence showed that both the landlord and agent considered the property to have been uninhabitable after the leak occurred from the property above, and (iii) the tenancy agreement made provision for such an event.

Given the above, although the landlord had unfortunately suffered a loss of rent the tenants could not reasonably be found liable for the rent claimed.


Posted by on 17 October 2016

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