All properties require maintenance and from time to time, repairs. It is your responsibility to bring these to your landlord’s attention as soon as they occur. Your tenancy agreement should set out the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant with respect to repairs.
This advice is based on the law surrounding repairs. Therefore, if your tenancy agreement stipulates something different, it may be an unfair term that can be disputed. Always seek advice if you have concerns or your home is in disrepair.
In this article:
- The structure and exterior of the property (including drains, gutters and external pipes)
- Disrepair to the heating (gas and electricity supplies), water supply and toilet system.
If your landlord does not carry out repairs within a reasonable period of time (1-2 weeks depending on the issue), you may have a claim against him for financial damages.
Local councils have extensive powers and duties to ensure landlords fulfil their obligations, so you can contact your local Environmental Health Team to carry out an inspection of the property or speak to your local Tenancy Relations Officer for further advice.
To find out more about how it works in your area and the contact information, visit your local council’s website or use Find your local council.
You should remember that your landlord is not responsible for all repairs. In some cases, you will be responsible. Your landlord’s obligations do not, for example, extend to cover things like washing machines and fridges and so you should refer to your tenancy agreement to see where responsibility lies.
Additionally, you are required to use the premises in a “tenant-like manner”. This means that you are expected to do various jobs about the place.
- Turning off the water supply if you go away in winter
- Cleaning the chimneys when necessary
- Cleaning the windows when necessary
- Unblocking the sinks when necessary
- Ensuring that the property is properly ventilated so as not to cause damp/mould (e.g. open window or use extractor fan in the bathroom)
If you damage the property, you are responsible for the repairs. If a problem arises, it is important to report it to your landlord in writing. You should date your letter and keep a copy for reference.
Important to know: A tenant does not have a general right to withhold rent - even if the landlord fails to carry out repairs. Withholding rent may jeopardise your right to remain in the accommodation. In certain circumstances, a tenant can use the rent to pay for repairs but you should always seek advice before adopting this course of action; contact Money & Housing Advice or the University of London Housing Services.
Further advice & information
If you are unsure about anything related to your rights as a tenant, your contract or dealing with your landlord or letting agency, we have lots of articles to support you in our Housing & accommodation support. In particular, you may find these articles useful:
- What fees can I be charged when renting in the private sector?
- Are there any accommodation scams I should be aware of?
- Can I get help with my accommodation contract before I sign it?
- What support & advice can I get for housing issues during the coronavirus pandemic?
- Or check out our video series on Navigating the Private Sector for housing