In the case of Waaler v Hounslow LBC [2017] the Court of Appeal considered the landlord’s ability to recover the cost of improvements under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 provides protection to tenants of residential premises against excessive service charges – the costs charged for repairs and improvements must have been ‘reasonably incurred’.

The court also made a distinction between repairs and improvements, the factors that a landlord should consider when carrying out improvements may be more extensive than when carrying out repairs, but the test for either is the same – whether the costs were ‘reasonably incurred’?

In this case a notice was served by the landlord upon the tenant stating that he intended to carry out major works to the apartment block and estimated the tenants share of the charges to be 61,134.01. The works were complete a year and a half later. Six and a half years after the works had been completed, the tenant received a demand for 55,195.95 in respect of improvements.

It was held by the court, that the landlords works were not reasonable. This was because replacing the windows with new units amounted to an improvement, rather than a repair and therefore, the court stated that the landlord must consider two factors before proceeding with the improvement:

• The availability of an alternative and less expensive remedy; and

• The views and the financial means of the tenants who will be required to pay for the works.

As the landlord had not considered the above, the tenant was not held liable to pay for the improvements as they were not reasonably incurred.

If you’d like to find out more information, or how you could be affected, please get in touch with solicitor Joe Brightman on 01206 764477 or