Tenantable Repair | Landlord & Tenant Law | Law Cases | Definitive Property Terms

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tenantable repair

As defined and explained in this ONLINE Encyclopedia

Such repair as would make a property suitable for habitation or fit to be lived in. Such repairs as a tenant might reasonably be required to carry out by virtue of the fact that he has been granted a right to use and occupy another's property and should not be expected to return the premises at the end of the tenancy in an unduly deteriorated state. The type of repair that an incoming tenant would expect an outgoing tenant to have carried out. In particular, 'tenantable repair' and 'habitable repair' import that repair will be carried out to ensure "that the premises might be used and dwelt in not only with safety, but with reasonable comfort, by the class of persons by whom, and for whom, and for the purposes for which they might be occupied. … such repair as, having regard to the age, character and locality of the house, would make it reasonably fit for occupation of a reasonably-minded tenant of the class who would be likely to take it. … The house need not be put into the same condition as when the tenant took it; it need not be put into perfect repair", Proudfoot v Hart (1890) 25 QBD 42, 52 (CA) (United Cigar Stores Ltd v Buller [1931] 2 DLR 144, 147 (Can)). In that case the lease was granted for three years, so a stricter interpretation is likely to apply to a longer lease (and conversely a lesser obligation to a shorter lease).

    Even though premises are in a very poor state at the outset, a tenant is not absolved from carrying out 'reasonable repairs'. Words such as "repair reasonably and properly", "keep in good repair", "sufficient repair", and "tenantable repair" all convey similar meanings. "The tenant must when necessary restore by reparation or renewal of subsidiary parts the subject matter demised to a condition in which it is reasonably fit for the purposes for which such a subject matter would ordinarily be used", Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe v McOscar [1924] 1 KB 716, 729 (CA). However, all such words should be interpreted in the context of the lease and with due regard to the condition and locality of the property at the start of the lease. A tenant is not required to redecorate completely (a requirement to "redecorate completely" would normally be an express covenant in a lease) if an incoming tenant would be happy to take the premises without complete redecoration, providing there would be no undue adverse effect on the rent the incoming tenant might pay. A tenant is not obliged to repair or restore that which has worn out by age, but he should carry out such work as painting the woodwork to preserve it (Crawford v Newton (1886) 36 WR 54). The tenant is not responsible for fair wear and tear; but he must not commit waste.

    In the US, the terms 'tenantable repair' or 'good tenantable repair' are not commonly used in leases; the more usual term is good repair, or 'good order and condition'. However, when the term is used it carries a connotation similar to that referred to above (Thorndike v. Burrage, 111 Mass 531 (1873); Anno: 45 ALR 12, 13–17: Tenant's Covenant to Repair, IIIc 'Good order and condition').  Cf. tenant-like manner.  See also fair wear and tear(BrE), good repair, wear and tear(AmE).

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