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Damages for disrepair

This page explains the principles to be applied when calculating damages in a housing disrepair case.

Introduction

How much should the tenant received in damages? How long is a piece of string? It is often very difficult to form a precise view. Every case will turn upon its own facts and the feelings of the individual judge about the case. Solicitors and barristers who regularly practise in this area will have feel for the right sum and regard will be had to previous cases. Legal Action regularly provides details on awards. A very useful book to have, which has collected together many cases, is the Housing Law Casebook by Nic Madge (LAG Books). However, it is always necessary to be cautious about the short reports of other cases. Further, as will be seen below (Earle v Charalambous) there is no tarrif to be applied.


Basic principles

The leading case which sets out the basic principles is Wallace v Manchester City Council [1998] EWCA Civ 1166. Morritt LJ:
    ".. the agreed starting point is the basic principle that the purpose of an award of damages is, so far as possible by an award of money, to place the innocent party in the position he would have been in if he had not suffered the wrong, whether breach of contract or tort, of which he complains. .. Thus in the context of the breach of an obligation to repair property let to another the purpose of the award of damages is, so far as an award of money can do so, to place the tenant in the position he or she would have been in if the obligation to repair had been properly performed."
Morritt LJ then carried out a lengthy review of the previous cases before coming up with the following propositions.
    "First, the question in all cases of damages for breach of an obligation to repair is what sum will, so far as money can, place the tenant in the position he would have been in if the obligation to repair had been duly performed by the landlord.

    Second, the answer to that question inevitably involves a comparison of the property as it was for the period when the landlord was in breach of his obligation with what it would have been if the obligation had been performed.

    Third, for periods when the tenant remained in occupation of the prope ... THIS IS AN EXTRACT OF THE FULL TEXT. TO GET THE FULL TEXT, SEE BELOW

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