If you are unhappy with the condition of your accommodation and the landlord is not dealing with the matter satisfactorily, you should look at your tenancy agreement initially to see who is responsible for what. Both landlords and tenants have responsibilities with regard to repairs and this should be stated in the agreement.
However, landlords also have statutory obligations to repair under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985:
The landlord is responsible for maintaining and repairing the structure of the building (including drains, gutters and external pipes), the heating and hot water and the basins, sinks, baths and toilets.
The landlord has to put right something that has gone wrong or is damaged and does not work as it should.
The landlord is not generally responsible for internal decoration unless the internal structures have been damaged by disrepair to something which the landlord is responsible for. For example, if damp from a damaged external wall has led to damp/mould on an inside wall, it can be argued that the landlord is responsible under section 11.
The landlord is responsible for keeping in working order all gas and water pipes, electrical wiring, boilers, water tanks, radiators but not washing machines, electric heaters etc. These may be covered in the tenancy agreement but not under section 11.
Steps to Take:
- Put the details of the necessary repair IN WRITING and dated (email or letter) and keep a copy. You can add any evidence, for example photos or a letter from a doctor if it is affecting your health. (The landlord’s obligation to repair under section 11 does not arise until s/he has notice of the disrepair.).
- The landlord must then be given a reasonable time to carry out the repair. There is no definition of reasonable and it depends on the problem, but common sense is a good guide.
- If the landlord does not do the repair within a reasonable time, you need to write again, detailing his obligations under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and/or the tenancy agreement and asking for immediate action. If you are unsure he got the original letter, you should send it recorded delivery.
- If the landlord still fails to do the repairs, you will need specialist help.
If you are unsure what to do or want some advice about your next steps, please contact the Advice Service and we will discuss possible options with you.
Generally, the two main options available are:
- to use the rent to pay for repairs
- take court action
It is not advisable to withhold rent payments without taking specialist advice. There is a procedure which must be followed if you are considering doing this and it is a risky course of action, which should only be considered as a last resort, as should court action, which is expensive and time-consuming.
If an agent is involved, are they managing the property and responsible for arranging the repairs? Or is the landlord responsible? You will also need to be sure that both the landlord and agent have copies of all letters.