Thank you. a tenancy agreement is at its essence a contract, albeit a specialised one. as part of the contract, the landlord agrees to provide you with sole occupation of a defined property which in this case includes the balcony. From what you say, the landlord has by failure to maintain an exterior door failed to provide you with access to the balcony area for an extended period of your tenancy.
Under the landlord and tenant act, the landlord is responsible for maintaining among other things the doors of the property. he does so in a reasonable manner and within a reasonable amount of time, as a tenant, you cannot hold him liable for things that break on a short-term basis as in law, a tenant cannot expect better treatment than he could expect if he was the owner of the property himself. However, taking more than six months to fix a door is clearly not reasonable by any standard and as such, amounts to a breach of contract on the landlord's part. As such, in principle you are entitled to claim damages.
As regards ***** ***** much you might be entitled to, this was the reason I asked you how big the balcony was. There are various methods of calculating the extent of damages you are entitled to in such a situation however one of the most common is simply to calculate a reduction by reference to the overall floor area affected. So in this case, if the balcony represents approximately 10% of the overall floor area of the latter, an appropriate reduction might be 10% for the duration of the period in question. It is possible to seek a higher amount as a reduction if you can demonstrate that the area in question is particularly essential. This is common for example where an affected room is a bathroom and it is the only bathroom in the property. It may be small, but if you were denied use of it, it would have a disproportionate effect on your quality of life. In the case of a balcony, it is not straightforward to make such an argument though the main reasons you can think of is to what may justify higher level of damages.
The same applies in respect of appliances if the landlord provided them as part of the tenancy although of course damages in the case of appliances cannot be calculated in reference to floor area but rather by reference to the impact upon your tenancy. For example, the lack of use of the hob is likely to be regarded as more significant than the lack of use of the dishwasher because one has to be able to cook whereas however tedious, one can still wash up by hand.
Initially, you can broach the subject with the agents and put forward a proposed figure explaining the reasons for your methodology and the reasons why you are seeking damages - i.e. for breach of contract as above. If you are unable to reach agreement, you can consider issuing proceedings in the County Court for breach of contract. You can do so either now or within six years and so the option is available to you to wait until the end of your tenancy if you are concerned that issuing proceedings may cause issues with regards ***** ***** relationship with the landlord which you would prefer to avoid.
If you decide to issue proceedings in the County Court, you can do so online using the courts online issuing service moneyclaim.gov.uk.
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