Living in rented accommodation isn’t always plain sailing. There are 8.5 million households renting in the UK and whilst many landlords comply with their repairing obligations some do not.
Rental agreements can take a turn for the worse when tenants begin to discover that they’re living amongst damp, mould and other health and safety hazards but their landlords won’t fix the problem. If you’re currently living in a state of housing disrepair, we’re here to tell you that there is a solution.
In this blog, we’ll talk you through some of your rights as a tenant under s.11 Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, and what you can do if your landlord refuses to make repairs.
What can I ask my landlord to fix?
First and foremost, it is vital to understand exactly what your landlord may be responsible for and what issues rely on you as a tenant to rectify.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you can ask your landlord to fix:
- Structure – i.e. walls, windows and doors
- Exterior – i.e. gutters and the roof
- Sanitary Fittings i.e. Broken or damaged fittings such as pipes, drains, basins, sinks or baths
- Heating System and/or Boiler – i.e. Inadequate heating and hot water systems
- Water – i.e. taps/running water/showers
- Gas – i.e. cooker hobs
- Electricity – i.e. light switches and fittings
As a tenant, you’re well within your rights to report any of the above issues to your landlord. Issues that fall outside of this remit such as damage to tenant-owned appliances or furniture lie with the tenants themselves to fix.
It’s important to also note that if the problem appears relatively minor or insignificant you might be tempted to overlook it, however, this could lead to further issues down the line. It could be indicative of a larger problem or worsen over time, so it’s important to always report any of your concerns as early as possible.
How should I tell my landlord something needs fixing?
It’s fair to say that most communication between landlords and tenants generally revolves around issues and repairs. So, if you’re concerned about reporting an issue to your landlord – don’t be.
Open communication is key in resolving housing disrepair issues, so your first action should be to reach out to your landlord as soon as you notice the problem. Here’s what you should do:
- Report the issue to your landlord in writing – It’s always best to do this in writing and avoid doing it over the phone, as there will be no evidence of the report if needed in the future. Write to them or send an email and make sure to keep copies of all correspondence for your records.
- Document the issue – Provide a clear and concise description of the issues and request prompt repairs.
- Collect evidence – Start gathering photographic or video evidence of the issue. This will be key in documenting when the problem started and if it worsens over time.
- Send a reminder – If your landlord hasn’t responded within two weeks, send them another reminder – again in writing if possible.
If you have followed the above steps and haven’t had a response from your landlord or they have refused to make the repairs, it’s time to explore other alternatives.
The next steps to take
If you’re at the stage where you’ve been living in potentially hazardous conditions for months with no attempts to resolve the problem by your landlord, we’d recommend escalating your complaint.
Build a case against your landlord
The idea of taking legal action against your landlord can be daunting, but it’s important to remember that you have every right to get your property repaired to ensure you’re living in adequate housing conditions.
If you’ve followed the above communication procedures, you should have records of your attempts to contact your landlord which can be used to build a case, along with any photographic evidence that has been taken. This can be used to fight your case in court due to the neglect of your landlord.
Can I withhold rent if my landlord isn’t making repairs?
As tempting as it may be to withhold your rent if your property isn’t matching your expectations and your landlord isn’t cooperating, we’d advise against this.
When you sign the tenancy agreement, you are legally obliged to pay the expected amount of rent at a given time. If you stop paying this, it will be considered a breach of the tenancy agreement which may prompt your landlord to consider eviction proceedings.
How long does my landlord have to make the repairs?
Unfortunately, there is no given timeframe for this and the law simply states that landlords should carry out repairs ‘within a reasonable time’ of being informed. What is considered ‘a reasonable time’ will depend on the severity of the issue and if it’s a threat to the tenant’s health.
Regardless of how long ago you reported the issue to your landlord, if they are ignoring or denying your requests for a repair you are well within your rights to consider taking further action.
Taking legal action against your landlord
Making a housing disrepair claim and taking legal action against your landlord can be a lengthy process, so it’s important to work with someone who understands the ins and outs of this. They can help to build a strong case and work with you to get your repairs actioned, and claim compensation for any damages caused.
At FDM Solicitors, that’s exactly what we do. Our team of housing disrepair solicitors are on your side every step of the way. We work with clients across the UK who are tenants of a housing association, social housing or local council housing.
We aim to make the claims process as seamless and hassle-free as possible, whilst driving your case to success. We operate on a no-win, no-fee basis so if we’re unable to obtain compensation for you, you won’t have to pay anything provided you comply with the simple terms.