The experience of most people reading this will be that when a tenant raises a disrepair complaint, usually by way of set-off and counterclaim to a rent possession action, something has to be allowed for such a claim, however modest.
On 11 and 12 July 2012 Andy Lane was acting for the landlords in two cases where county court judgments were given dismissing the disrepair counterclaims in their entirety.
In the first (Merton Priory Homes v Manneh), whilst there was expert evidence of a fault with the boiler thermostat there was no credible evidence of its report prior to that inspection or how long it had been a problem. The following day District Judge Nicholson handed down judgment in Hammersmith & Fulham LBC v Carty and again dismissed the disrepair counterclaim in its entirety. Mrs Carty had moved out of her flat and stopped paying the rent because of smoke damage caused by a fire elsewhere in the block. The main complaint was as to a grille/vent and the judge found this not to be in disrepair and was in any event not within the landlord’s repairing obligations. Having found that there was no need for the tenant to vacate the premises he also accepted the argument that even if he was wrong on all the other issues she could not have suffered discomfort and inconvenience such as to justify damages because she was not there!
Perhaps most interesting (though given other conclusions not crucial) was the Judge’s further rejection of the counterclaim because any damage was as a result of fire and the landlord was, by reason of s11(2) of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985, therefore not liable (an argument developed by Arthur Moore earlier in the proceedings).