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Steps to Consider Before Making an Application for Specific Performance

Are you a tenant struggling with severe disrepair issues in your rented property, such as persistent mould, exposed electrical wiring, or a cockroach infestation that poses a serious health risk?

You may feel compelled to take legal action to force your landlord to address these problems promptly. Applying for specific performance, a court order that compels a party to fulfil their contractual obligations, might be the way forward. However, before pursuing this path, it’s essential to carefully consider several key factors to ensure you have the best possible chance of success.

Courts are more likely to grant an application for specific performance when the disrepair issues are severe and pose a significant risk to the health and safety of the occupants. Examples of such issues include:

  1. Persistent mould growth that causes respiratory problems or allergic reactions
  2. Exposed electrical wiring that presents a fire or electrocution hazard
  3. Severe pest infestations, such as cockroaches or rats, that spread disease and contaminate food
  4. Structural defects that compromise the stability of the building
  5. Lack of heating or hot water during cold weather

To build a strong case, you must first provide your landlord with written notice of the disrepair issues. This formal communication should clearly outline the problems and allow the landlord a reasonable timeframe to rectify them. Keep a record of this notice, as verbal complaints alone may not suffice to prove that your landlord has had adequate opportunity to address the issues.

Next, carefully review your lease or tenancy agreement to confirm that the disrepair issues fall under your landlord’s responsibilities. Some agreements may stipulate that dealing with certain types of repairs is the tenant’s obligation, which could undermine your claim against the landlord.

Before proceeding with legal action, it’s crucial to determine the cause of the disrepair. If the issues stem from your own behaviour or failure to maintain the property adequately, it may weaken your case against the landlord. Document your efforts to keep the property clean and well-maintained to demonstrate that the disrepair is not a result of your own negligence.

Gather evidence to support your claim, such as photographs, videos, and expert reports or environmental health assessments that document the severity of the problem and its potential impact on your well-being. This evidence will be crucial in persuading the court to grant specific performance.

Before seeking specific performance, explore alternative remedies. Involving your local authority’s environmental health department may lead to an inspection and enforcement action against your landlord. Additionally, consider pursuing a claim for damages to compensate for any losses or expenses incurred due to the disrepair.

Navigating the legal system can be complex and daunting, so it’s wise to seek advice from a qualified legal professional specialising in landlord-tenant disputes. They can provide guidance on the strength of your case, the likelihood of success, and the most appropriate course of action.

In conclusion, applying for specific performance in a landlord-tenant dispute should be a carefully considered decision, especially when the disrepair issues are severe and pose significant health and safety risks. By providing written notice, reviewing your lease agreement, investigating the cause of the disrepair, gathering evidence, considering alternative remedies, and seeking legal advice, you can make an informed choice and increase your chances of a favourable outcome.

Please note that this article is not intended as legal advice. For personalised guidance tailored to your specific situation, please contact Adel Jibs & Co Solicitors, who will be happy to assist you further.



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