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What to do if your landlord won’t make repairs

What to do if your landlord won’t make repairs? | Housing Law Legal Advise.

If your landlord won’t make repairs, it can be frustrating and, in some cases, dangerous to your health.

What are landlord’s responsibilities for repairs?

This is likely to be set out in your tenancy agreement. But your Landlord will still have responsibility to do major repairs even if it doesn’t say so in your tenancy agreement- even if you don’t have a written agreement.

Landlord’s responsibilities are the same whether it is a private landlord, the council or a housing association.

Their responsibilities include:

  • The outside structure of the building including walls, roof, doors and windows
  • The internal structure of the property, such as walls, stairs and banisters
  • Plumbing items such as sinks, baths, toilets and the pipes and drains
  • Hot water and heating
  • Any chimneys
  • Ventilation
  • Gas appliances – in particular the boiler
  • Electrical wiring of the property

If you are in a property that has shared common ways, your landlord is also responsible for those areas. This includes communal kitchens, communal hallways and entrances.

Your landlord MUST also put right any damage caused by the disrepair and/or the fixing of the disrepair that they are responsible for.

“What can I do if my landlord won’t fix things”?

  1. Report the repairs needed

Sounds simple, but many people forget to use the correct methods to report disrepair.

You can report the problems to the letting agency, if you have used one. Or you can report directly to the landlord.

Ensure that the disrepair is reported in person, by the phone, over email or text.

Ensure that any verbal report is followed up in writing to confirm the details, you may need to prove that you have contacted your Landlord in writing in the future.

You must give them reasonable time to carry out the work before taking the next steps.

  1. Do not withhold rent

Many people ask – “Can I withhold rent if repairs aren’t done?”

You have NO right to stop paying your rent, even if your landlord refuses to carry out repairs.

If you do stop paying your rent, your landlord could take steps to evict you!

Luke Ridge, Housing lawyer at Swain & Co Solicitors, explains,

“In some cases it can be possible to claim rent which has been paid back from your Landlord, but it is never a good idea to stop paying rent in the hope this will force your Landlord to do repairs.

  1. Ensure you keep records

Make sure that you keep records to help you make a complaint.

Things such as:

  • a list of the repairs that are needed along with photos
  • copies of correspondence you send or receive regarding repairs
  • any receipts for items you have had to purchase to replace damage from disrepair
  • any reports or bills from professional services such as pest control or a surveyor for damp
  1. Negotiate

Remember, it is often easier to try talking to your letting agency and/or landlord to negotiate repairs.

So, check they have actually received the initial repair request; give dates and times that are convenient for repairs to be carried out; and remind them of their responsibilities.

Use the letting agency’s complaints procedure if they are handling the repairs correctly.

If that doesn’t work, complain to their letting agency redress scheme.

Luke explains: 

“There are two schemes called ‘The PRS’ and the ‘Property Ombudsman’, the letting agent’s website should tell you which one to contact.”

What do you do if all that fails to get the repairs done?

  1. You could complain to Environmental Health

Write a letter to your landlord telling them you are going to ask the council to take a look at your home. This could encourage your landlord to act.

The council can offer you advice and may tell your landlord to carry out the repairs.

Luke advises,

“Check your local council’s website for contact details for the right department. Remember, some councils call their environmental health department something different like ‘private sector letting standards’ or ‘tenancy liaison services’”.

  1. Consider taking legal action

Get legal advice. A court can order your landlord to make repairs. Plus, you may be entitled to compensation for inconvenience and/or damage to your belongings and your health.

Luke says,

“Legal Aid is available to tenants if the disrepair poses a serious risk to your health and safety. For those claiming certain benefits or who have a low household income, the costs of your case may be entirely covered by Legal Aid. In many cases, the tenant is able to take action without paying a penny themselves.”

To find out more about getting free legal advice click here.

YOU must seek legal advice if your landlord tries to evict you for complaining about repairs.

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