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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » October 26, 2012
The Real Estate Voice
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Defects in Leased Premises
October 26, 2012   
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Leases are regulated by the Civil Code, but the provisions of agreements have priority. Hence, if defects arise, one must thoroughly examine the lease agreement to determine the parties’ rights and obligations. If the agreement is silent on a particular issue or does not explicitly regulate it, the following rules will apply.

The lessor’s basic obligation is to deliver the leased object in a condition fit for the agreed use and to maintain it to that standard for the entire lease term. This means that the lessor, at his/her cost and risk, must remove, make good and repair any major defects which occur or arise during the lease term. However, the lessee is responsible for repairing minor defects, which usually occur as the result of normal use such as replacing light bulbs, fuses, repairing broken knobs, locks, taps and the like.

The lessee may summon the lessor to repair all defects which result in the leased object being unfit for the agreed use, by a deadline determined by the lessee. The deadline must be adequate for solving the specific problem. If the lessor fails to do so, the lessee has the right to carry out the repairs himself but at the lessor’s cost. This means that the lessee, at his/her discretion, can offset the expenses against the rent or demand that the lessor returns them to the lessee.

If the lessee repairs defects without previously summoning the lessor and setting a deadline, the lessor will still be obliged to reimburse the cost of the repair to the lessee but will have the right to contest the cost and manner of repair by claiming that if he/she had known about the need to repair he/she would have carried out the repairs cheaper or better.

Further, if there are defects which result in the leased object being unfit for the agreed use, and the lessor fails to repair them within an adequate time frame or the defects are irreparable, the lessee can terminate the agreement with immediate effect. Such termination can result in a claim for compensation being brought based on damage suffered by the lessee, including consequential damage.

If there is a defect which limits the agreed use of the leased object, the lessee may demand a rent reduction for the period during which the use of the leased object is limited. Such a demand does not require proving the lessor’s fault or the lessee’s damage. The reduction should be proportional to the degree or the nature of the specific problem. In practical terms, the lessee is entitled to pay a reduced rent as long as the defect is not remedied.

Finally, it should be underlined that the lessee cannot terminate the agreement or call for a rent reduction if he/she knew about the defects when entering into the agreement.

Stefan Jacyno, advocate and managing partner Wardyski&Partner
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