Question: What is a Leasehold Covenant and how is it breached?
I have been a long-term renter of a 3-bed house with my family. The landlord has not fulfilled his obligations to us as tenants. As I have read the tenancy agreement and there are a number of Leasehold Covenants in the tenancy agreement, such as the landlord has to maintain the outside of the property. The landlord has not been round once to sort out the roof, even though I have complained over 5 times to his estate agents.
The estate agents are saying that I have breached the Covenant claiming that I have not kept the inside of the property in good repair and that I am lucky that the landlord has not ended my tenancy early because of that. Can you explain to me how Covenants work and what happens if the landlord or tenant breaches a Covenant?
The Answer from Solicitors online
Sorry to here about your situation with your landlord. I will start of by explaining the important principle of Leasehold Covenants, then go on to explain tenant’s rights and landlord’s rights in regards to the property.
What are Leasehold Covenants?
Leasehold Covenants are promises made between a landlord and tenant.
Through these Covenants, responsibilities are placed on a landlord or tenant to do what the Covenants state. Landlords have the right to request that a tenant fulfils their responsibilities towards the landlord written in the Covenant. Similarly tenants have the right to request that a landlord carries out their responsibilities towards the tenant that are written in a Covenant.
There are two types of Covenants. Expressed Covenants and Implied Covenants.
What are Expressed Covenants?
Leasehold Covenants which are directly expressed and included in the written tenancy agreement e.g. the landlord may promise in the lease agreement to keep the outside of the property in good repair, whilst the tenant promises to do the same with the inside of the property.
The statement of an Expressed Covenant to repair in the lease should not include work that renews virtually the whole of the property in one go, brings completely new improvements to the property or requires the correction of design faults within the property unless such there are faults causing physical damage to the property which falls within a Covenant to repair.
What are Implied Covenants?
Implied Covenants are promises between a landlord and tenant that do not have to appear in the tenancy agreement. They can come from statue (the national written laws passed by Parliament) such as the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 or Common law (law that comes from the Judgements of court cases and the decisions made by a Judge in those cases). These laws place Implied Covenants on a landlord and a tenant, such as the landlord’s responsibility to allow the tenant to enjoy quietness in the property without any interference from the landlord.
Breach of Covenants
The landlord has the right to cancel a tenancy agreement if the tenant breaches one of the Covenants and the tenancy agreement contains a “forfeiture clause” which allows the landlord to bring the tenancy agreement to an early end due to a tenant breaching a Covenant.
If the landlord knows of the breach of a Covenant by a tenant or the landlords estate agents do, and neither of them acts or respond to the breach and continues as if nothing has happened by asking for rents to be paid as normal, then this would be regarded as the landlord waiving his right to bring the tenancy agreement to an early end as stipulated in the “forfeiture clause”
A landlord must apply to the court to obtain an order for possession of the property, if he wants to end the tenancy agreement early due to a breach of Covenant by a tenant, but a tenant can also apply at a court for relief from the landlord’s application to terminate the tenancy agreement. For this to be successful, the tenant must have paid all arrears of rent, all the landlord’s costs and in the circumstances, it must be fair to allow the tenant to stay.
In regards to a breach of a Covenant involving repairs that should have been carried out by the landlord or by the tenant, compensation can be claimed for a breach of such a Covenant in accordance with Section 18 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927, by the party who has suffered a loss as result of the repairs not being carried out.
If you need legal advice on Leasehold’s, you can speak to one of our Solicitors online right now.