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February 6, 2013
Star Features


 

LANDLORD AND TENANT - Who should repair leased premises?

In a lease agreements a general covenant to repair does not require the tenant to improve the premises in any way, save in so far as incidentally required as part of repair.

The common law places limits on the scope of a tenant's general covenant to repair. A tenant will generally NOT be liable for major improvements to the premises, but holds that he is liable for subordinate renewal, and not for the complete rebuilding of the premises. Because there has been much debate as to who will repair what, the following will help the court determine how to divide the work to be done on the premises:

1) The court will look to see whether the repair or alteration goes substantially to the whole of the building or only to a subsidiary part;

2) Whether the effect of the alteration was to produce a building of a wholly different character to that which was rented;

3) The cost of the works in relation to the previous value of the building and their effect on its value and lifespan of the premises.

Therefore, if the repairs are trivial, incidental or subsidiary, it will likely be the responsibility of the tenant to be done. If there are major or significant repairs that ultimately alter the premises, they will be the responsibility of the landlord.

Tenants are usually required to "keep premises in repair". This means that the tenant should do all things to ensure the premises is kept in the condition it was rented in.

wear and tear expected:

The effect of this exception is to relieve the tenant from liability for disrepair arising both from the normal action of time and the elements, and from the normal and reasonable use of the premises by the tenant for the purpose for which the premises were rented.

This exception will excuse the tenant from liability for any repairs required, solely because of the passage of time.

However important to note is that if there was a NECESARRY repair to be done and the tenant failed to do it, and therefore caused more damage to result, the tenant will be liable. The tenant must see to it that the premises does not suffer more than the operation of time and nature would produce.

The length of the lease is a relevant factor when the courts are looking to determine the standard of repair. A lower standard of repair may be expected under a short lease as opposed to a long lease.

In the case of a long lease, the proper standard, if none is laid down in the lease, is that arrived at by assuming that the tenant has kept the premises in the same condition as a reasonably minded owner would have kept them in, with full regard to the age of the building, where the building is located.

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