Is a landlord legally responsible to fix a broken lift for a tenant?

Sometimes a contentious subject, the rules behind a Social Landlord’s repairing responsibilities are highly relevant to the sector. When considering the legal responsibility for a broken lift, Social Landlords must consider the tenancy agreements, leases, and policies.   

The recent case of Anchor Hanover Group v Cox (2023) UKUT 14 (LC) explored whether the repair of a lift within an independent living retirement development of 51 flats was within the meaning of Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. 

Section 11 implies a repairing obligation on Social Landlords, meaning they must keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling house and keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling house for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating, and heating water.  

The Upper Tribunal decided that the lift was not part of the structure and exterior, nor the kind of installation covered by s.11(1)(b) or (c) but that doesn’t mean a Social Landlord has no other legal responsibilities when it comes to the repairing of a lift. 

When a Social Landlord owns the building, there may be an expressed repairing clause covering the repair of the lift and even if the tenancy agreement was silent on that point, the case of Liverpool City Council v Irwin (1977) AC 239 would likely imply such a repairing clause. 

It is also possible that if a lift was broken/defective, it may make the dwelling unfit for human habitation under Section 9A Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. 

Although Anchor Hanover Group v Cox (2023) UKUT 14 (LC) highlights clearly that the repair of a lift is not within the meaning of Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act, it really doesn’t mean a Social Landlord can ignore or not undertake lift repairs. It is highly likely legal responsibility will rest with the landlord, either under the tenancy agreement and or Sec 9A Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. 

If you have any legal queries about a landlord’s repair responsibilities, please contact Louise Murphy, Head of Social Housing and Regeneration at MSB.  

Law is correct as at 23rd January 2023 

*Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the law in this article is correct, it is intended to give a general overview of the law for educational purposes. You are respectfully reminded that it is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No liability is accepted for any error or omission contained herein. 

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