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Review Your SQE 1 Practice Records

Examination Timing: 00H01M25S

John agrees in writing with his friend Emily that he will occupy her house while she goes on a four-year research project abroad. Neither party intends John to have any right to remain in the property after four years. 

As he is doing Emily a favour, she agrees that he can pay her rent at half the true market rent of the property. The central heating boiler breaks during a particularly cold winter, and it is Emily's responsibility to repair it. John contacts Emily, who tells him that the lease does not make any provision for her to repair the boiler and that since John is not paying full market rent for the property, it is his responsibility to have this repaired. 

Emily refuses to meet the cost of the repairs to the boiler and stops returning John's calls and emails. John approaches you for some advice as to whether there is anything he can do to force Emily to meet the cost of the works. 

Which of the following statements best describes the legal position?

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John can have the works carried out and can deduct the cost of these works from his rent payment, if he follows certain procedures. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 imposes repairing covenants on the landlord for leases of less than seven years, provided the tenant does not have the right to renew the lease (and for more than seven years where the lease is determinable at the landlord's option within seven years). According to s. 11 of the Act, the landlord is obliged to repair the structure and exterior of the property and to keep in proper working order the installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity, the sanitation, baths, sinks, basins, toilets, and the heating apparatus for rooms and water. The legal position is that if the landlord breaches their repairing covenant, the tenant may carry out the repair works themselves and then recover the cost of those repairs by withholding the rent. To do so, the tenant must follow certain procedures as set out in Lee-Parker v Izzet (1971) 1 WLR 1688. 

Key Point: Tenants may carry out necessary repair works and deduct the cost from rent if the landlord breaches their statutory repairing obligations and proper procedures are followed.

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