The common law evolved in a different direction to improve the distribution of power. Within the frame of common law, the landlord represented the ultimate authority, and the duty to repair the residence shifted to the tenant automatically, implying the lack of statutory protections for tenants (Miller, 2018). The law’s evolution took place to reflect the shift in the distribution of possessory rights and address landlords’ “nearly unlimited freedom” in contracts (Miller, 2018, p. 919). Thus, changes to the law sought to increase tenant protections and address the imbalance of power in tenant-landlord relationships.
The factors that may have brought about this change include the extent to which the parties are informed of the residence’s actual habitability and a limited connection between tenants’ activities and major defects. As of now, landlords have the privilege to enter residences to “make needed repairs” (Meiners et al., 2015, p. 203). Any leased property should have “an implied warranty of habitability,” and it is reasonable that landlords’ knowledge regarding habitability and barriers to it is more profound (Meiners et al., 2015, p. 203). Also, buildings’ structural defects requiring major repairs are not considered the outcome of tenants’ improper exploitation of residences (Huws, 2019; Kamano et al., 2020). These intuitively clear considerations could have contributed to changes in responsibility allocation.
The parties’ motivation to conduct high-quality repairs is another hypothetical factor in the change. If tenants are held responsible for repairs, they can repair the residence using the cheapest possible materials and leave the residence soon, creating the risk of accidents to affect the next tenants. In contrast, landlords are motivated to conduct repairs properly and “in a timely manner” (Meiners et al., 2015, p. 204). Firstly, an adequately repaired building will be more attractive to tenants, enabling the landlord to create some competition and keep rental costs high enough. Secondly, regardless of the landlord’s plans, including continuing to collaborate with tenants or even selling the building, keeping a residence repaired will make rental or real estate selling agreements more profitable.
Huws, C. F. (2019). Tenants’ rights and the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016. International Journal of Housing Policy, 19(4), 588-598. Web.
Kamano, K., Christakakou-Fotiadi, K., & Karaiskos, A. (2020). Condominium regimes in Japan and Greece: A comparative study. Waseda Bulletin of Comparative Law, 38, 21-62. Web.
Meiners, R. E., Ringleb, A. H., & Edwards, F. L. (2015). The legal environment of business (12th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Miller, K. (2018). A faulty presumption: How Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company v. White diminishes tenants’ rights under the Texas Property Code, Chapter 92. Baylor Law Review, 70, 916-943. Web.