With more and more people being forced into the rental market, and an increase in unscrupulous, or even just over-stretched, landlords, many of us are unsure of our rights and how to deal with landlords when the need arises. Today, we are delighted to bring you a guide to your legal rights, and some tips to get your landlord to make repairs on your rented property, courtesy of Dave Dyer of Redrose Property Management, who have their own guide for tenants.
The central heating won’t come on. A tile has come off the roof. The bath is leaking through the ceiling. You report the problem to your landlord or letting agent, but a week later there has been no action.
It can feel difficult or awkward for tenants to get their landlords to make repairs, and frustrating if you have to pester them to get something to happen. What if they say it’s your responsibility, they’re too busy, or ignore your requests completely?
You have the right to live in a property that is kept in a reasonable state of repair and there are ways to make sure your landlord meets their legal responsibilities.
Your rights as a tenant: 6 repairs your landlord must do
By law, your landlord must repair:
1. The property’s structure and exterior
2. Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings, including pipes and drains
3. Heating and hot water
4. Gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
5. Electrical wiring
6. Damage they cause by attempting other repairs
Repairs mustn’t be confused with damage to a property; if a repair is the result of something the tenant has done, the landlord isn’t responsible for sorting it out.
For example, if a washing machine that the landlord has provided that isn’t emptying, your might think the machine has failed and the landlord must pay for the cost. However, if it is blocked due to an item left in a pocket, it’s your responsibility to get it fixed.
How to report repairs
Inform your landlord of repairs that need doing as soon as you notice them, no matter how big or small the problem. This is important for faults hazardous to your health, such as damaged electrical wiring.
It’s best to speak to your landlord (or letting agent) in person or over the phone, and follow this up in writing (like an email or letter). If you can’t speak to them or they don’t respond to your request, follow up the next day day with a second phone call or email – they may have been busy and unable to respond.
Most importantly, no matter how bad the repair problem, you must continue to pay your rent or you risk being evicted for rent arrears.
What to do if your landlord refuses
If your landlord refuses to do the repairs – either by saying they won’t or being evasive and letting the repairs drag on – your next move is to speak to the environmental health department at your local council.
This could lead to an inspection of your property, and the council will take action if they think a repairable issue could harm you or cause a nuisance to others. If the environmental health officers find a violation during an inspection, they will contact the landlord and instruct them to do the repairs.
If your landlord still doesn’t act, you can take legal action by asking a court to order them to carry out the repairs by a specific time – as an injunction or an order for Specific Performance. You can also order your landlord to pay you compensation for loss or harm you suffered. You can use the small claims court to order your landlord to do the repairs, but only if the repair costs and compensation together are less than £1,000.
Collecting evidence of repairs
Hopefully it won’t go this far, but if your landlord lets you down, you’ll be relieved you collected evidence to back you up.
• Notes on how the damage or malfunction happened and when
• A record of conversations you have with your landlord, and what was discussed or agreed
• Copies of letters and emails
• Photographs of what needs repairing
• Receipts for anything you’ve had to replace, such as damaged clothes or furnishings
• List of medical visits you have due to injury or illness caused by the repair problem, and a doctor’s note
A good letting agent will keep an organised record of any repairs sent through to the office. For example, Redrose has a dedicated maintenance email address that all relevant enquiries are sent to, so we can log the problem and get it sorted out. Tenants can therefore email the details over, plus images if they want to.
Keeping on good terms with your landlord
It goes without saying that a good way to encourage your landlord to make repairs promptly is to be a valued tenant. If you pay your rent and bills on time, look after the property and be a good neighbour, they’re going to want to keep you.
Your tenancy agreement is a source of important information about what you are responsible for and what your landlord’s duties are, so make sure you’ve read and understood it. If you’d like to learn more visit our Tenant Guide for more information.