Repairing rights

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If you rent a home you have a basic right to repairs and both you and your landlord have specific responsibilities.

Some tenants, such as those with an assured shorthold tenancy have little security and you should be aware that you could be served with a notice to leave by your landlord if you make a complaint about repairs, so always seek advice first.

Landlord's responsibilities

All landlords must comply with the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 Section 11. This means they must:

  • Keep the main structure and exterior of the property including drains, gutters and external pipes, in good repair;
  • Keep the installations for the supply of gas, water, electricity and sanitation in working order, as well as any heating;
  • All gas appliances must be checked and serviced at least once a year by a registered GAS SAFE fitter. You should be given a copy of the gas certificate. If you fit a gas fire as a tenant, you will be responsible for maintaining it;
  • Any furnishings provided by the landlord must meet the fire resistance regulations (Furnishings Regulations 1988);
  • A fire alarm must be provided on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms with a usable fireplace or woodburner;
  • Repairs arising from fire, flood etc.

The landlord of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) has additional responsibilities, including fire safety and management of the property. Please see our Houses in Multiple Occupation pages for more information.

Tenant's responsibilities

  • Use the property in a tenant-like manner - this means that you must not damage or neglect the property or allow others to do damage to the premises;
  • Do small jobs to maintain the property such as unblocking sinks, cleaning windows and keeping the dwelling in a good decorative order;
  • Make good any disrepair to anything you are entitled to remove from the property.

How to report your disrepair problem

When you believe your landlord is responsible for a problem do not stop paying rent. Your obligation to pay rent as a tenant is independent of the landlord's responsibility to carry out repairs.

If you have a problem:

  • Inform your landlord that there is a repair problem as soon as is practically possible. It is best to do this in writing, as this establishes the landlord's liability. Date and sign any paperwork and keep a copy of it.
  • You can get help and advice from our Housing Options officers.

It is important that you:

  • Give the landlord reasonable time in which to do the work - usually four weeks;
  • Write again if the landlord fails to complete the repair as requested.

You could consider enclosing copies of estimates for the repair from reliable trades people and ask that the work be completed by a certain date.

Arranging the repair yourself

Check with your landlord if they are happy for you to do this. Some landlords provide contact details of local trades people that they expect you to use. You could then get the work done and deduct the cost from future rent or have the invoices sent to the landlord.

Remember if you do the work yourself you cannot charge labour costs.

Keep copies of any correspondence relating to the disrepair. Where necessary take photographs of any damage that occurs as a result of the defect.

You have a responsibility to inform any visitors to the property about any defect that could cause them injury.

Dealing with problems with your landlord

If the landlord fails to respond to several requests to do repairs you should contact us using the telephone number provided and ask for advice from an Environmental Health Officer. 

You can choose to take the landlord to court but this option can be expensive if you are not entitled to Legal Aid.

If you withhold rent to pay for repairs your landlord could take you to court and may seek possession on arrears grounds. You will need to make a decision whether or not to pursue your repairing rights if there is a real danger of subsequently losing your home.

Always seek advice first.