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Published On: January 27, 2022 | Last Updated On: January 30, 2024 | Blog | 0 comments

Your rights over communal parts of your building

As a tenant, you have rights over communal parts of your building along with having rights over your own flat. This includes places such as stairwells, lifts and entrance halls. You also have rights over the communal installations which service your flat and other parts of the block, such as heating and electricity.


What are your rights over communal parts of your building?

Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 is the main source of your rights over the communal parts of your block. Under this provision, your landlord is required to keep the structure and exterior of the building in repair. Your landlord is also required to keep in repair and proper working order installations for water, gas and electricity as well as sanitation and heating. These duties cannot be contracted out in your tenancy agreement or lease.

The Act extends these duties to any part of the building in which your landlord holds an estate or interest. This means the duty also applies to sub-tenancies, i.e. to landlords who are themselves lessees/tenants. For instance, if your landlord is the owner of a flat where the council is the freeholder of the building, your landlord would nonetheless be under a duty to use their best endeavours to keep the communal parts of the building in repair as they would hold an interest in those parts by way of their lease with the freeholder.

It will often not be possible for a landlord of a subtenant to undertake the repairs as they may lack sufficient rights to do so. In these circumstances, your landlord has a defence for failing to carry out the repairs if they can show they used all reasonable endeavours to obtain the right but were unable to. Practically speaking, where your landlord is not the freeholder or in control of the common areas of your building, they are likely to pass the duty to carry out the repairs onto the freeholder. The freeholder would be under the same obligation to them and is more likely to be able to undertake the repairs. However, your freeholder may breach their lease obligations and you may need to make a claim for a Right to Manage.

Your lease or tenancy agreement may contain ‘express’ terms placing further specific obligations on your landlord to repair the common areas of your block. If this is the case, your landlord will be obliged to fulfil the specified duties. The scope of these rights will be dependent on the wording.

How to enforce your rights over communal parts of your building?

If the common parts of your block remain under your landlord’s control, which is likely to be the case if your landlord is a housing association or the council, then their duty to repair does not require you to first give notice of the disrepair. It would, nevertheless, be advisable to report any disrepair to the communal parts of your building to your landlord before beginning legal action. If you do so you are more likely to get repairs done without having to take legal action but if you don’t the compensation you are entitled to because your landlord fails to remedy the repairing covenant could be reduced.

If your landlord is not in control of the common areas of your block because you are a subtenant, you will need to give notice to your landlord before their duty to repair kicks in. Make sure you keep a record of any time you have given notice to repair as this will be useful evidence of the landlord’s breach of duty should they fail to carry out the repairs.

Communal issues affect multiple residents but not necessarily all residents equally. You may be concerned that you can only enforce your rights over communal parts of your building if all your neighbours act together. In fact, any tenant or leaseholder in a block has the right to bring legal action against the landlord or freeholder. However, there can be significant advantages in acting together.

If your landlord fails to repair the communal areas even after you have given notice, legal action may be necessary to get the repairs done. You can contact our team to advise you on how to enforce your rights.

* Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

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12 thoughts on “Your rights over communal parts of your building

  1. I own a flat in a shared building where I pay my service charge. In 8 years no repairs or cleaning have been completed. The landlord after 7 years finally got intouch through a property company. I have been communicating for months and they are delaying any work. I need advise. They have only recently sent accounts and said they owe me 2,700. Now they are saying the accounts need to be completed again to make sure abd to check they have money for repairs. Tel 07712478368

  2. We have communal electric sockets to allow hoovering etc. One of the tenants has plugged in an extension lead, and is using power inside her home that we all pay for. Is this illegal?

      1. Hi there,

        I own a flat in a private drive, I have been told I cannot have a parking spot even though there are plenty of empty space. I have reviewed my service charge breakdown and I am charge for the car park entrance I’m unable to use, despite being to this is because it is a communal space. Should I not be allow a spot then?

  3. I’m interested in any rights the tenant has over the use of shared or communal spaces. I live in a block (in England) where access to each property is along a narrow balcony. for the past twenty five years residents have had flower pots on this balcony, outside their own properties, and the landlord (the council) has just recently told us that we must remove them. I think it relevant that we pay them to clean this space, and I think our payment confers rights, and I don’t think the landlord has the authority to withdraw our rights but I’m interested in what the law says.

  4. The water for our communal laundry, we pay a service charge for is being used by a tenant attaching their hose to water their garden with. Is this illegal?

  5. I am leaseholder of a ground floor flat and garden. Two flats on first floor have tenants. I pay for all cleaning by landlord in hall ,stairs and landing. Tenants do not pay. I have been billed £50 for repairs to communal gate which l did not damage.No discussion about a repair before receipt of bill.Also,l discovered recently that I believe l have been paying for some years for electricity in hall and on landing.l do not use stairs or landing. Landlords electricity meter has registered little usage all this time.He refuses to consider allowing me to buy freehold. Please advise. Thank you.

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