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Landlord Legal Issues

Landlord & tenant lawyer Tessa Shepperson of www.landlordlaw.co.uk answers your questions

Q. We have a friend who is renting a very old property on a statutory periodic tenancy, where she has lived for over 20 years with her family. She recently discovered that her water pipes are lead and her children have severe health issues. Is there anything she can do?

A. Landlords are obliged to provide properties that are fit for human habitation, although this obligation only arose after the coming into force of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 in 2019. As this is a periodic tenancy, the legislation will probably apply. So, she should notify her landlord of the problem and request that the pipes be upgraded to something safer.

High lead levels in the water will also be a hazard under the Housing Health and Safety Rating system. So, she can ask the Local Authority to carry out an inspection – if they find a Category 1 hazard, they will be obliged to require the landlord to rectify this.

If this is not done, the Local Authority can serve an improvement notice on the landlord. If this is not complied with, the landlord can be prosecuted and fined in the Magistrates Courts, and the tenants can apply for a Rent Repayment Order in the First Tier Tribunal.

The tenants could also contact the local Water Authority and ask them to do tests. If lead levels are high, they will usually agree to replace the pipes they own (from the street to the property boundary) for free. However, it will be down to the property owner (i.e. the landlord) to replace the pipes from the boundary to the property.

I suspect the tenant will also have a claim for damages for personal injury, so she should investigate this by consulting solicitors who specialise in this work. Ideally use a firm that has expertise in landlord and tenant work so they can combine this with a claim to rectify the pipes at the property.

Q. I have recently discovered that my tenant is keeping an e-bike at the property and charging the battery in the kitchen. I am worried about this as I have read that batteries can cause severe fires, in particular, if the battery is charged while damaged. What can I do? The tenant is a delivery driver and uses his e-bike for work. 

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