Tenants Rights For Repairs In UK

If you live in rented accommodation, it is always worth knowing your rights

Tenants rights for repairs in UK should help you with any questions you have regarding repairs needing done on your rental property.

I have been looking into tenancy rights as I am having a difficult time with my landlord/letting agency. He put the house up for sale without us knowing (we found out through google!), they were very lazy with repairs and even SCREWED a window closed as it didn’t lock plus many more problems. We have now moved house and are with a fantastic letting agency but I thought it may be a good idea to put everything I have learnt into a web post for anyone who is also struggling with a problem landlord/letting agency.

I have put together as many questions together that I can think of regarding your tenancy, if you have another questions then please get in-touch and I will try and find out the answer for you.

How to report a repair

When you want to report a repair in your property it is probably easiest to tell your landlord about any repair problems in person or by phone. However, it’s always best to follow this up in writing as I have learnt by experience. 

If you live in private rented accommodation and you don’t know who your landlord is, you can report any repairs to the landlord’s agent, for example, the letting agent.

You should keep a copy of any letters or emails you send and receive because if your landlord doesn’t fix the repair, you’ll be able to show that you told them about it. This will be important if you need to take further action at a later stage – because I have kept all written correspondence with my letting agency, I have been able to send it to their CEO to show how poorly we have been treated.

Your landlord or their agent has the right to access your home to see what work is needed and to carry out the repairs. Unless it’s an emergency, they must give you at least 24 hours’ written notice.

Certain repairs, such as a burst pipe, should be dealt with as an emergency. All other work should be done within a ‘reasonable’ time, however, the law doesn’t give any specified time limits.

My landlord won’t do repairs, is there anything I can do?

Tenants are responsible for the following

  • looking after your home by using it in a ‘tenant like’ way,
  • telling your landlord about the repairs that are needed,
  • providing access to have any repair work done, and
  • doing minor repairs yourself, such as changing fuses and light bulbs
  • keeping your home reasonably clean
  • not causing any damage to the property and making sure your visitors don’t cause any damage
  • using any fixtures and fittings properly, for example, not blocking a toilet by flushing something unsuitable down it.

Your landlord cannot include a term in your agreement that would pass on any of their repair responsibilities to you, for example, that you are responsible for repairs to the roof. This type of term would not have any force in law.

Your landlord is responsible for the following

  • the structure and exterior of your home, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors
  • basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
  • water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.

Your landlord must not pass the cost of any repair work that is their responsibility on to you. 

In a lot of cases, your landlord isn’t responsible for repair work until they know about it, therefor,  it is up to you to tell them about any repairs that are needed to be done.

Reporting repairs is often a condition of your tenancy agreement, so you may have to report any problems even if they seem quite small or if you’re not too concerned about getting them fixed.

The is a condition in EVERY tenancy agreement that you must give access for repair work. This applies whether you have a written or an oral tenancy agreement.

Your landlord or their agent, has the right to access your home to see what repair work is needed and to carry out the repairs. Unless it’s an emergency, they must give you at least 24 hours’ notice in writing.

If there’s an emergency and your landlord can’t get hold of you, they can force entry if they need to get into your home. For example, a burst pipe in your flat is causing water to leak into the flat below. However, if your landlord does break into your home to deal with an emergency repair, they have to repair any damage caused.

You’re responsible for repairing any of your own appliances such as a washing machine, or anything that you had installed, such as a shower.

If your landlord supplied any electrical appliances, they are responsible for maintaining them and your tenancy agreement may give more information about this. However, a landlord can decided to remove the product rather than fixing it – just like my landlord done because I told them about a repair that needed done with my fridge freezer.

Your landlord is also responsible for ensuring that any gas appliances which they supplied are safe, for example, a fitted gas fire.

If your landlord doesn’t do anything after you report the repair, you may decide to take other action. There are several options open to you, some of which are different depending on whether you have a private landlord or a social housing landlord.

Private rented tenants – Ask your local authority to help. I contacted my local environmental health department who noted my complaint about the landlord not doing repairs to windows and broken flooring – which resulted in my daughter having an accident and ending up in hospital – A member of the environmental health team came out and inspected my property and agreed the landlord needed to put things right. They got in-touch with the landlord/letting agency who then got giving a date the repairs had to be done by. If the landlord/letting agency didn’t comply, formal notices could be given and environmental health could take it further for you.

Social housing tenants – There are different rules for different parts of the UK so it is worth checking CAB website here who can help you further.

Will I have to move out while repairs are being done?

If your landlord needs to do major repair work to your home, it’s only possible for you to stay if you can move from room to room while the work is going on.

If you’re not able to use certain rooms because of repair work, you may be entitled to a reduction on your rent. For example, if you’re not able to use half of your home, then it would be reasonable for your rent to be reduced by half.

You should speak to your landlord about reducing your rent in these circumstances. If they refuse, you may be entitled to withhold a proportion of your rent, or claim compensation through the courts. It’s best to speak to an adviser or Citizens Advice first if you are in this situation.

If the repair work is so disruptive that you need to move out, your landlord may, but doesn’t have to, provide somewhere else for you to live while the work is being done.

Social housing landlords are likely to provide alternative accommodation if you do need to move out temporarily.

If you agree to move out temporarily, you should get something in writing from your landlord which deals with these points:

  • the reasons why you’re being asked to move out temporarily
  • how long the repair work is likely to take
  • who pays the rent on your home and any alternative accommodation. If you continue to pay rent on your home, you could negotiate that your landlord pays the rent for any alternative accommodation, or that they suspend the rent payments on your home while the repair work is going on
  • who pays for moving and other expenses  
  • confirmation that you can move back in when the repair work is complete.

If you get Housing Benefit and you have to move out temporarily, you may be able to claim housing benefit for the alternative accommodation. Or, if you still have to pay rent for the home you’ve moved out of, you may be able to claim housing benefit on it if you’re unlikely to be away for more than 13 weeks.

If you need help reaching agreement with your landlord on certain things then you should speak to an adviser or Citizens Advice.

Moving out for repairs due to my landlord allowing my home to become in poor state of repair

The situation is slightly different if you have to move out of your home because your landlord failed to do repair work when you first told them and now your home is in such a poor state of repair.

In this situation, you can find reasonable alternative accommodation. Your landlord will have to pay for the accommodation and moving expenses as part of the compensation they owe you for not meeting their legal repair obligations. You may also be able to claim compensation for the inconvenience of having to go to the trouble of finding other accommodation.

If you refuse to move out of your home to allow repair work to be carried out, your landlord may take legal action against you. Your landlord can apply to court for an order allowing them access to your home to carry out repairs.

However, they wouldn’t be able to do this if the work they were doing was improvement work rather than repair work. A repair is generally different from an improvement. For example, replacing an old heating system that is not broken, with a new, more energy efficient one, would be an improvement rather than a repair.

For any more help or information visit Citizens Advice

I have also had a message from a lady who wishes to stay anonymous – ‘Just to let you know there is a government organisation in Scotland called the private rented housing panel. if the landlord doesn’t adhere to the repairing standard the tenant can lodge an application. they’ve got a great website with loads of information.’

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