Joyner v Weeks (1891)

In this case the Landlord issued proceedings against the tenant for breach of repair at the expiration of a full repairing lease. The cost claimed amounted to £75 based on the cost of carrying out the necessary remedial works.

However, the Landlord had entered into an agreement with the tenant of both the adjoining properties to grant a new lease on the subject property, which would allow conversion of the three properties to form single retail outlet.

The new tenant demolished some parts of the middle shop and completed the conversion at a cost of £200. A further sum of £45 was spent on other areas of the property.

The original tenant argued that the Landlord had incurred no loss as the works by the new tenant superceded the requirement for the repairs originally specified or should be a maximum of £45..

The claim was successful in the first court hearing, but the decision was reversed at Divisional Court level. The judge, Wright J, said:-

Two measures have been suggested, the first the amount of money which it will cost the lessor to do the repairs, with some allowance for loss of rent or occupation during the time of reparation and with some deduction where proper by reason of substitution of new for old; the second, the diminution of the value of the lessor's estate by reason of the non-repair. In general they will both come to the same thing, and it can seldom be the case that the diminution in value can be more than the cost of repair. It may, however, often be the case that the diminution in value by reason of some or all of the tenant's defaults is much less than the cost of making them good. A part of the structure may have been designed for a purpose which has become obsolete, or a building may for many reasons be found at the end of a term to be as valuable, or nearly as valuable, in a partially as in a completely repaired state. In such cases, which measure is to be preferred?... It appears to us that the better measure is the amount of the diminution of value, but not exceeding the cost of doing the repairs (with the addition of deduction above suggested), and that in the cases which appear to adopt the other test it was not intended to decide that the cost of repairing ought to be or can properly be given so far as it exceeds the diminution of value. To give that excess might in effect be to give an unfair kind of specific performance to the great detriment of the lessee without any advantage to the lessor as such; whereas the property function of a right for action for damages for breach of contract seems to be to make good to the aggrieved party the damages which he has actually sustained.

This judgement clearly sets out the position eventually set out by Section 18(1) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927. This decision was reversed by the Cout of Appeal where the Landlord was awarded the full claim of £75.

This demonstrates that the courts had come to the view that the cost of repairs irrespective of the actual damage to the reversionary interest was a tried and tested view adhered to over many years. This inflexibility led to the enactment of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927.