Updated: 20 June 2017
Active property management is not just about collecting rent from a tenant on behalf of the landlord but also being proactive in many other ways. Just one example of this is the role of property manager undertaking regular inspection of the property to check that the tenant is complying with the terms of the lease, and in particular, their repairing obligations.
For example, if a tenant is often required to repair and decorate the property, in particular decoration of the property may be required on a 5 yearly cycle. Without regular inspections combined with the knowledge of the lease terms, one of these decorating years could be missed. This could then result in deterioration of the property, in particular where a timber window has not been painted and the timber begins to rot.
Rather than leaving the disrepair to continue until the end of the lease most leases have a clause allowing the landlord to serve an Entry and Repair Notice (or Jervis v Harris clause) which allows a landlord to enter the property and carry out the work at the tenant’s expense. Significantly the landlord can recover the cost of these works as a debt rather than as damages. A landlords claim for damages in respect of disrepair is limited by statute to the amount by which the value of the reversionary interest is reduced by the disrepair so if the lease has a number of years to run such reversionary loss may be very limited, whereas a claim for a debt would actually be the costs incurred by the landlord in carrying out the works at that time.
In most instances the threat of service of a Repair Notice should lead to some dialogue between the landlord and tenant, as it is in the interests of both parties ultimately to keep the property in good repair. A good managing agent will be an effective communication conduit between the landlord and tenant, facilitating such repairs where necessary. Regular communication also reduces the chance of such an issue becoming a full blown dispute.
If you are a commercial landlord and require property management advice please contact our Property Management team.