Case Study 1: Disrepair and compensation

Mr R complained about the landlord’s refusal to pay for water charges incurred by him following disrepair to his toilet.  He had reported that water from his cistern continuously overflowed into the pan. The landlord carried out the repairs four days after the problem was reported. However, Mr R received a water bill which he believed was £400 higher than his usual bill.  This was evidenced by the calculations provided by the utility company.

Our investigations considered the landlord’s obligations in relation to section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act. We concluded that the landlord’s compliance with its internal policies and procedures does not substitute the landlord’s other legal obligations. Policies for enhancing customer service standards should not be used to fetter a landlord’s discretion where its decision creates hardship for a customer or results in an obviously unfair outcome.

The landlord’s initial response to the repair was appropriate however, once it became clear about the extent of the loss suffered as a result of the disrepair, the landlord did not take steps to contextualize the loss in relation to its obligations to keep the property in repair and working order, and that there were no facilities available to the tenant to mitigate the loss.

We ordered the landlord pay compensation of £616.85 for the loss incurred during the breach of repair covenant and the landlord’s refusal to consider compensation. In addition, the landlord was ordered to review its repairs procedure to include a provision for the repair to be expedited where a loss to the tenant is foreseeable as a result of an ongoing breach of a covenant to repair.