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Getting repairs done

Getting repairs done

SKU: 5.11
  • Advice

    If you rent a property, your landlord is responsible for most major repairs. Minor repairs are usually the tenants responsibility. The majority of tenancy agreements are Assured Shorthold Tenancies, which are governed by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Section 11 of this Act covers responsibility for repairs. If you have a different living arrangement, your rights and responsibilities may be slightly different. If you aren’t sure what type of agreement you have, check your tenancy agreement itself.

     

    What you are responsible for as a tenant

    Your responsibilities as a tenant are to keep the home in what is described as a ‘tenant like manner. This would include keeping the home reasonably clean, keeping gardens and outside areas in a reasonable state; and conducting minor maintenance, such as changing lightbulbs and fuses. Your tenancy may also set out other repairs that are your responsibility.

    As the tenant, it is your responsibility to do safety checks on appliances that you bring into the home, and perform any repairs to them and furniture that you own.

    Problems and damage that you have caused will also be your responsibility to fix. If you do not take reasonable care of the home, your landlord may be able to ask you to pay for repairs. However, your landlord cannot charge you for normal wear and tear.

     

    What the landlord is responsible for

    Your landlord is responsible for the more major repairs in your home. These would include:

    • the heating system;
    • chimneys and ventilation;
    • wiring;
    • kitchen and bathroom fixtures -, baths, sinks, toilets, and drains;
    • common areas; and
    • the structure and exterior of the building - walls, stairs, roof, external doors and windows.

     

    Your landlord is also required to ensure that the home is safe for occupation. This is usually known as keeping the home fit for habitation. Poor conditions that could affect your health or put you at risk of harm must be addressed by the landlord. Examples include:

    • electrical safety;
    • gas safety;
    • damp or mould;
    • pests such as rats or mice;
    • structural issues; and
    • unsanitary conditions, particularly bathrooms and kitchens.

     

    The requirements to ensure that a home is fit to live in applies to the majority of tenancies, including council and housing association rentals. The only exception is fixed-term tenancies which began before 20 March 2019. Signing a new agreement or staying on when the fixed term ends will ensure that the landlord is legally responsible for keeping the home fit for habitation.

     

    Asking your landlord to make repairs

    If repairs are required that you believe are your landlord’s responsibility, you should speak to them as soon as possible. It is best to write to your landlord and to make sure you have kept a copy for yourself. If a letting agent manages the property on your landlord’s behalf, then you should contact the agency.

     

    Gather evidence of the problem that needs repairing. Usually, photographs are very useful for this purpose. Keep records of conversations you have had with your landlord about the problem. If you have had to replace any damaged items, keep the receipts. Your landlord must give 24 hours’ notice before visiting the property if they want to inspect the condition of the property. In an emergency (or at your request), they might be able to inspect the property without 24 hours’’ notice. You must allow them access, though you can suggest a different time if it is not convenient for you.

     

    If your landlord won’t do the repairs

    If your landlord does not do the repairs that you have asked for within a reasonable time or refuses to do them, there are things you can do to ensure that the repairs are made. Write a follow-up letter or email to your landlord, reminding them of their responsibility to do repairs. Suggest times or dates that the repairs could be done.

     

    Keep paying your rent, as falling into rent arrears will give your landlord might be able to evict you. However, it may be possible for you to arrange and pay for repairs yourself and then deduct the cost from your rent. You must follow the correct procedure to do this. You should also be aware that your landlord may use a Section 21 notice to evict you if they are unhappy about you deducting money from the rent. They do not need a reason to issue a Section 21 notice.

     

    If you decide to arrange repairs you should only do this for minor repairs. You will be responsible for the quality of the work. The process you should follow is:

    • Write to your landlord telling them you plan to arrange repairs if they do not carry out the repairs within a certain time (2 weeks is usually reasonable);
    • Get quotes for the repair work. You should try to get 3 estimates from reliable contractors;
    • Send the quotes to your landlord. Explain that you will go ahead with the cheapest quote if they do not carry out repairs;
    • Arrange the repairs;
    • Send your landlord the receipts for the repairs and ask them to refund the money; and
    • If your landlord doesn’t refund the money, write to confirm that you will deduct the money from the rent.

     

    If the problem is affecting your health or making your home unsafe, you can report your landlord to your local council. You will need to send written details including when the problem started and how it is affecting your well-being. This might be, for problems like mould or damp, or a pest problem. If your landlord tries to evict you because you have asked for repairs or made a complaint to the council, this is likely to be a ‘retaliatory eviction’, and you might be able to challenge it. You should seek advice from our specialist advisors or an advice agency if you want to challenge an eviction.

     

    If your landlord will not deal with repairs that are their responsibility, you might be able to take them to court. If you are successful, the court can order your landlord to carry out repairs and/or pay you compensation. You should only consider going to court as a last resort. You should seek advice from one of our housing specialists or another legal service if you are thinking about taking your landlord to court. You may be eligible for legal aid to help cover some of your legal costs if the disrepair poses a serious risk of harm to the health or safety of an individual living there.

     

    How we can help

    Lestons can review any tenancy agreement to confirm repair liabilities and act as a liaison between you and your landlord. To gain our assistance you need to open a case, this is done by taking advantage of our free consultation service, activated by the link at the top of the page, should you wish to start a case the caseworker will send you the suitable payment link.

     

    Please note your caseworker can only give generic advice, their role is to prepare your details for handling by our legal team / property surveyor and to act as your point of contact.

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