When power goes off

What can you do when the power goes off?


The electricity in your home can go off for a variety of reasons. It may be because of an electrical fault in your property, a supply problem in the area, or because it has been cut off.



Power cuts


If you are experiencing a power cut you can call 105. This is a free nationwide number that will put you through to your local electricity network operator.

If you have a prepayment meter, it’s worth checking that you haven’t run out of credit. If your meter displays DEBT this means that you are out of credit and will need to top it up.

If the supply is off and you have credit, it could be an internal fault. Check that your trip switches are set to ON. If the trip switch fails to re-set you should contact a qualified electrician to take a look.  .

If there has been a power cut, switch off and unplug any expensive electrical items such as your laptop, TV and smart devices – this will prevent them getting damaged when the power returns. If you need to use candles for light, never leave them unattended.

You might be able to claim compensation for power cuts. Whether you can claim will depend on:

  • how long the power was cut for
  • if the power cut was planned.

For more information on claiming compensation see citizens advice.


Disconnection


Due to unpaid bills
If you have not paid your electricity bill, it’s possible that your supplier may have disconnected your energy supply. However, this should only be a last resort for your supplier, and you should always be given plenty of warning. There are steps you can take if you are having problems paying your bills. You should contact your supplier as soon as possible to discuss the options you might have or speak to a Shelter Cymru debt adviser.

By your landlord
Your landlord may be guilty of harassment if s/he removes or restricts your access to essential services such as gas, electricity or water, or fails to pay the bills so that these services are cut off. Harassment by a landlord is a serious criminal offence. You may be able to get help from the council’s tenancy relations officer, or take your landlord to court.

If you are in this situation you should get advice.


Making a complaint about an energy supplier


If you are not happy with the service you receive from your supplier you can make a complaint. If you are not satisfied with their response, you may be able to take your complaint further. Visit the Energy Ombudsman website for more information.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Webchat

If you have a non-urgent problem you can webchat with an adviser

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.


Electrical safety responsibilities

Responsibility for electrical safety


Landlords, tenants and owner-occupiers all have legal responsibilities when it comes to electrical safety. These are explained below.

Whether you own or rent your home, there are some steps which you should always take to keep your home safe.



What are my responsibilities if I own my home?


If you own your home, it is recommended that you:

  • arrange for an electrical inspection to be carried out every ten years
  • watch out for danger signs and make sure all electrical equipment in your home is maintained and used properly
  • ensure all repair and installation work is carried out properly.

Always use an electrician who is listed on the Registered Competent Persons website. This means that they are registered with a Government-approved scheme and can issue a certificate to prove that the work has been done properly and is safe.


What responsibilities do I have if I rent my home?


If you rent your home, you should:

  • watch out for danger signs and make sure all electrical equipment in your home is maintained and used properly
  • don’t use equipment or appliances that you think may be unsafe. If your landlord supplied the faulty equipment, report the disrepair to them
  • allow your landlord and/or an electrical contractor access to your home to carry out inspections and repairs. Your landlord should give you 24 hours notice before coming round (unless it is an emergency).

You are also responsible for the condition and safety of any electrical appliances that you bought to the property yourself.

If you are in any doubt about the safety of an appliance, get it tested or replaced.


What responsibilities do landlords have?


Your landlord is required by law to ensure:

  • that the electrical installation in the property is safe when your tenancy begins
  • that the electrical installation is maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy
  • ensure that any appliance provided is safe and has at least the CE marking (which is the manufacturer’s claim that it meets all the requirements of European law)
  • if you live in a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), have the electrics checked every five years.

To meet these requirements a landlord will need to regularly carry out basic safety checks to ensure that the electrical installation and appliances are safe and working.

In addition, Rent Smart Wales and Electrical Safety First recommend that a periodic inspection and test is carried out on all rented properties by a registered electrician at least every five years, and before any new tenant moves in.

If your landlord has done this, a copy of the inspection report (known as a periodic inspection report) should be made available to you and if the appliances have been checked then each electrical appliance in the property should have a PAT (portable appliance test) sticker on the plug showing the date it was tested.


Where can I find out more?


Electrical Safety First is a charity committed to reducing deaths and injuries through electrical accidents at home and work. Their website has lots of information on electrical safety as well as guidance on how to find and hire a registered electrician.

In Wales, all landlords and agents of domestic tenancies (including assured shorthold tenancies) must be registered and/or licensed with Rent Smart Wales. To keep and obtain a licence, a landlord must keep to certain rules and recommendations – including electrical safety. If you are concerned about the electrics in your home and you have reported them to your landlord but nothing has been done, then you can:

  • report the matter to Rent Smart Wales who will investigate
  • contact your local council’s environmental health department who can can ensure your landlord is meeting their legal obligations and take enforcement action against them if they are found not to be (see our page on ‘Is the place fit to live in?‘ for more information)
  • get further advice from Shelter Cymru.


Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.


Electrical safety precautions

Electrical safety : precautions you can take in your home


Landlords, tenants and owner-occupiers all have legal responsibilities when it comes to electrical safety. But whether you own or rent your home, you should watch out for danger signs when using appliances. Take these important steps to keep your home safe.

Use our gas and fire safety checklist to make sure you’re as safe as you can be.



How can I reduce the risks?


There are many things you can do to minimise risks of electrical shocks or fires in your home. For example:

Do:

  • have your electrics inspected regularly – see below
  • use a Residual Current Device when using electrical equipment outdoors
  • use a registered electrician to carry out electrical work in your home – look at the Registered Competent Person Electrician search facility to find a registered electrician in your area
  • regularly check the condition of plugs, cables and extension leads for burn marks, sounds of arcing (buzzing or crackling), fuses blowing, circuit-breakers tripping or if they feel hot
  • remove plugs from sockets carefully. Pulling out a plug by the cable puts a strain on it, and could damage the contact between the plus and socket
  • use plugs with the British Standard safety mark – they have live and neutral pins with insulating sleeves that allow you to put them in and pull them out of sockets safely. (Nowadays, electrical equipment comes fitted with a plug.)
  • be careful when using hand-held electrical appliances and ensure that they are switched off and unplugged when you have finished using them
  • check that any adaptor used complies with British Standards and is adequately rated for the connected load
  • have your electric blanket tested every three years (as recommended by Trading Standards Institute)
  • have smoke alarms fitted and ensure that they are all in working order
  • make sure you can access the fuse box and meter easily. Keep a torch nearby, so you can see what you’re doing if the lights go out
  • plan what to do in case of fire, be aware of all escape routes and make that exit routes are always kept clear.

Don’t:

  • bring mains powered portable appliances into the bathroom
  • overload adaptors, particularly with high current appliances such as kettles, irons and heaters
  • use adaptors plugged into other adaptors
  • trail cables from electrical appliances (including extension cables) underneath carpets or rugs
  • use any electrical equipment or switches with wet hands
  • wrap flexible cables around any equipment when it is still warm
  • clean an appliance such as a kettle whilst it is still plugged in
  • retrieve toast stuck in a toaster whilst it is plugged in, and especially not with a metal knife – there are often live parts inside!
  • fill a kettle or steam iron whilst it is plugged in
  • exceed the recommended bulb wattage for light fittings.

The Electrical Safety First website has lots more useful information on electrical safety in the home and garden.

If you are concerned about the safety of any electrical appliance or wiring in your home, contact your landlord or a registered electrician immediately.


Home Electrical Safety App


Electrical Safety First have developed a free smartphone app that allows anyone to do a quick, visual check, to ensure their home is electrically safe. The app highlights potential dangers in each room and explains how to resolve simple, non-technical problems. Where more serious issues are flagged, people are advised to use a registered electrician.


What does an electrical inspection involve?


Electrical Safety First recommends that you get your home inspected by a registered electrician every ten years if you own your own home. If you rent your home, your landlord should get the home inspected before you move in and then every 5 years.

During the inspection, the electrician will:

  • identify any defective electrical work
  • check for potential electrical shock risks
  • check for electrical fire hazards
  • make sure your electrical circuits and equipment are not overloaded
  • make sure all the wiring is safe.

Appliances will not normally be tested as part of an inspection, but if the electrician suspects that they are potentially dangerous they would bring this to your attention.

At the end of the inspection, the electrician will issue an Electrical Installation Condition Report detailing any damage, defects or other problems. If the report highlights any urgent problems, they should be fixed as soon as possible.

All repair and installation work must carried out properly. Always use a contractor who is listed in the Registered Competent Persons register. This means that they are registered with one of the Government-approved schemes and can issue a certificate to prove that the work has been done to the UK national standard BS 7671 (Requirements for Electrical Installations).



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Fire safety responsibilities

Responsibility for fire safety


If you rent your home, your landlord should make sure your home meets certain fire safety obligations. This includes ensuring there are no fire hazards in your home. If you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO), your landlord also has extra responsibilities.



Landlord’s responsibilities


Landlords have certain fire safety obligations, including:

Hazards

Your landlord should make sure there are no hazards in your home, including fire hazards. Potential hazards can be assessed by your local council, using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

Electrical safety

Your landlord is required to ensure:

  • that electrical installations in the property are safe when your tenancy begins
  • that electrical installations are maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy
  • that any appliance provided is safe and has the British Safety Standard sign.

Find out more about electrical safety in the home.

Gas safety

Your landlord must make sure that the gas supply and appliances in your home:

  • are in a safe condition
  • are fitted or repaired by a Gas Safe registered engineer
  • have a gas safety check every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer

Find out more about gas safety in the home.

Furniture

Any upholstered furniture provided by your landlord should be fire resistant. This includes:

  • sofas and armchairs
  • beds, headboards and mattresses
  • cushions.

There should be a symbol on your furniture to state that it is fire resistant. If they are not and your landlord won’t replace them, get in touch with your local council or trading standards office. They can take action against your landlord.

You are responsible for the condition of your own furniture.

Carbon monoxide detectors

If you have a coal or wood fire in your rented home, your landlord must fit a carbon monoxide detector.


Smoke alarms


If your private landlord is licensed under the Rent Smart Wales scheme, they should follow a Code of Practice. This recommends that landlords should fit at least one smoke alarm on each floor of the property.

You are responsible for checking the alarm works after you move in. If an alarm stops working, check if it needs new batteries or contact the landlord to arrange a replacement alarm.

You should allow your landlord access to your home to fit or repair smoke alarms.

Most council and housing association landlords also fit smoke alarms in their properties.


HMOs and fire safety


You may be protected by extra fire safety laws if you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO). An HMO could be:

  • a hostel
  • a house split into separate bed sits
  • a house or flat share, where people have separate tenancy agreements
  • a bed and breakfast or hotel which is not just for holidays.

Fire precautions

HMO landlords have to ensure there are adequate fire precautions (including alarms, extinguishers and fire blankets) and fire escape routes. There should be at least one fire extinguisher on each floor and a fire blanket in every shared kitchen. These have to be checked periodically and the correct sort of extinguisher must be provided. It’s up to you to make sure you know how to use the fire blanket and fire extinguisher in an emergency.

Means of escape

HMOs should have an escape route that can resist fire, smoke and fumes long enough for everyone to leave (usually at least 30 minutes). This could be an external fire escape, or internal stairs, corridors or walkways that are specially constructed or treated to resist fire. All the walls, ceilings, floors and partitions along the escape route must be fire resistant. All the doors leading to the escape route must be fire resistant and must close automatically.


What can I do if my landlord doesn’t comply?


If you don’t think your rented accommodation is fire safe, your first step should always be to try negotiating with your landlord. They may be prepared to provide you with fire safety precautions, such as a smoke alarm, fire extinguisher, or carbon monoxide detector if you request them.

If they still don’t do anything, contact your local council’s environmental health department. If their inspection finds a fire hazard, the council can take action against your landlord. The council can:

  • write to the landlord or managing agent, setting out what needs to be done
  • serve a legal notice telling the landlord or manager that they must do certain things
  • arrange to carry out any necessary repairs and then get the money back from the landlord.

In some circumstances, they may even prosecute the landlord.

If your landlord has a licence in Wales then contact Rent Smart Wales who can investigate and, in some circumstances, revoke their licence.

If your landlord won’t carry out gas safety checks you can complain to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).


Where can I get more information?


Find out more from Gov.uk or the Fire Service about fire safety in the home.

If you are injured in a fire or your property is damaged, you may have the right to take legal action against your landlord, or anyone directly responsible for negligent work. Bear in mind that there are time limits – for example, if you want to sue your landlord for negligence, you must start the action within three years of being injured. Get advice if you are in this situation.

If you have lost your home in a fire, you should contact your local council and ask to make a homelessness application. You should be considered homeless and entitled, at the very least, to emergency housing. If you are made homeless as a result of a fire, you will be in priority need.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.


Reducing fire risks

Fire safety precautions


Whether you’re a home owner or a tenant, there are certain simple precautions you should always take, to minimise the risk of fire in your home.

We’ve produced a gas and fire safety checklist you can download.



Fitting a smoke alarm


Make sure your home is fitted with at least one smoke alarm. Smoke alarms are cheap and easy to install, and can be bought at any DIY or electrical shop for as little as £5. Make sure you buy an alarm that meets British Standard 5446: Part 1, and remember to test the batteries regularly to check they’re still working.


Minimise the risk of electrical fires


There are several things you can do to help prevent electrical fires:

  • unplug appliances that aren’t in use
  • never overload adaptors with too many plugs
  • get electrical appliances tested by an approved contractor.

Be careful with heaters, candles and smoking


Keep heaters at a safe distance from flammable materials and always unplug electrical heaters when not in use.

  • Never cover heaters, for example by draping washing over them.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Never leave matches where children may find them.
  • Never empty a hot ashtray into the bin – wet the contents first or wait until it’s completely cold.
  • Never smoke in bed.

Plan a fire escape route


Plan what you would do if there were a fire in your home and always keep the escape routes clear. Make sure everyone in your home is familiar with the escape plan. If the main exit from your home locks with a key, make sure the key is always easily accessible and everyone in your household knows where it’s kept.


Plan what to do in an emergency


If a fire breaks out in your home:

  • get everyone out
  • stay out
  • dial 999 immediately – it’s free from any phone.

Other things to remember include:

  • if possible, close all doors behind you as you get out – this will delay the spread of fire
  • if you need to open a closed door, check to see whether it feels hot first – if it does, there may be fire behind it so don’t open it
  • if there’s a lot of smoke, stay as low to the ground as you can and cover your nose and mouth with a cloth
  • if you need to break a window to get out, cover the edges with a cloth so you don’t cut yourself when you climb out. If possible, throw soft things like bedding out to cushion your fall.

You can find more detailed advice on the Fire Service website.


Find out more


The Fire Service website has lots of useful advice on reducing the risk of fire, including information on safety in the kitchen, how to choose and use fire safety equipment, and how to create an escape plan.

Your local Fire and Rescue Service may also be able to give you more information and advice. In some areas, they may be able to provide a free home fire safety check or fit smoke alarms in your home. You can find the telephone number of your local service in the phone book.

Gov.UK have developed a fire safety leaflet for people with sight, hearing and mobility issues and those who care for them.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Responsibility for gas safety

Responsibility for gas safety


Landlords, tenants and owner-occupiers all have legal responsibilities when it comes to gas safety.



What responsibilities do I have if I am renting?


Allowing access
Landlords have a legal duty to have all gas appliances in their properties inspected on an annual basis. If you are a tenant, you must allow a registered gas installer access to your accommodation to carry out safety checks and, if necessary, repair work. Your landlord should give you adequate notice of the gas safety inspection.

Being gas safety conscious
If any of the gas appliances in your home belong to you, you should arrange for a registered gas installer to check them each year as well.

In an emergency
Call the National Gas Emergency Service immediately on 0800 111 999 if you smell gas or think there’s a gas leak.

For information on gas safety, call the HSE’s free Gas Safety Advice Line on 0800 300 363.

Do not use any gas appliances that you know or suspect to be unsafe. If there is a gas leak, you should try and prevent any further escapes of gas, for example by turning off the gas supply.


What responsibilities do landlords have?


Gas safety records
All landlords have to have a valid gas safety record for the gas equipment in the property they rent out. A copy of the record must be provided to the tenant. The record will list all appliances, including those owned by the tenant, although landlords are only responsible for the appliances that they own. Before you move into rented accommodation, you should always ask to see a copy of the current gas safety record.

Gas safety records are valid for 12 months and can only be issued by a registered Gas Safe engineer. In order to give a gas safety record, the gas engineer must carry out a gas safety check.

Fixing problems
If the gas engineer identifies any problems which affect gas safety, the landlord has to get them repaired. The gas engineer will take the appropriate action to make the installation safe, which may include disconnecting faulty equipment. They can also ask the gas provider to cut off the supply to the property if necessary.

Keeping records
Your landlord must keep a record of the date of the safety check, any problems it highlighted and any work that was done to rectify these problems. Your landlord should give you a copy of this record within 28 days of the safety check.


What if a landlord doesn’t comply?


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for enforcing gas safety. You should get in touch with the HSE if your landlord:

  • has not provided you with a valid gas safety record, or
  • refuses to let you see records of safety checks, or
  • doesn’t do any work required.

Failure to follow gas safety requirements is a criminal offence and the HSE can issue a formal caution and may prosecute your landlord. If convicted, the landlord may be fined or even given a prison sentence.

You can call the HSE helpline on 0845 345 0055 or 0800 300 363 or contact your nearest office – details are available on the HSE website.

If you live in a house or flat that is occupied by more than two households (a house in multiple occupation or HMO), your local council also has powers to ensure that your landlord complies with the rules on gas safety.


What are my responsibilities if I own my home?


Getting gas safety checks
If you own your home, you should arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out once a year – this is not a legal requirement unless you have lodgers or tenants, but is recommended.

Being gas safety conscious
If you suspect any gas appliances in your home may be faulty, don’t use them. Call out a registered gas engineer as soon as possible. If the gas engineer disconnects any appliances, you mustn’t reconnect them until any faults have been rectified.

If you do, you are breaking the law.

Declaration of Safety
If you are having a gas appliance installed or replaced, the registered gas installer will issue you with a notification called a Declaration of Safety. Keep this somewhere safe, as you’ll need it when you come to sell your home in the future, to prove that the work has been carried out properly by a registered engineer.

Remember – never DIY with gas, it’s dangerous and likely to be illegal.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.


Gas safety precautions

Gas safety precautions


There are important steps you should take to keep your home safe. If you’re renting your home, many of these are your landlord’s responsibility.



Check the danger signs around gas appliances


Always be aware of danger signs around any gas appliance. These include:

  • sooty marks
  • yellow or orange flames instead of blue (although this probably won’t apply if you have a ‘real flame’ gas fire)
  • pilot lights that blow out frequently
  • excessive condensation on windows.

The Gas Safe Register website has more information on things to look out for. Never use any gas appliance that you think might be unsafe.


Get a carbon monoxide detector


A carbon monoxide detector is not the same as a smoke alarm. Carbon monoxide detectors alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide in the air by flashing a light and sounding an alarm.

Ideally, you should have a detector in every room that contains gas appliances. If you have a gas fire in the bedroom, it’s particularly important to have a detector there. This is because carbon monoxide leaks are very dangerous when you’re asleep, as you won’t notice the initial warning signs, such as tiredness or dizziness.

There is no legal requirement for your landlord to install carbon monoxide detectors, but it’s a good idea to ask for one anyway. If your landlord won’t provide one, it may be worth considering fitting one yourself. You can buy them from most hardware or DIY shops for about £10. Make sure any detector you buy conforms to British standard BS7860.


Have gas safety checks carried out every year


All rented properties must have a valid gas safety certificate, a copy of which should be given to the tenants.

Gas safety checks must be carried out by a registered gas installer. You can ask to see their Gas Safe Register ID card. The engineer will check:

  • the gas supply pipework
  • that all gas appliances are working safely
  • that all gas flues are working safely and are suitable
  • that gas appliances have adequate ventilation.

Gas safety checks should be carried out at least once a year. If you are a tenant, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to arrange this.

If you are disabled, chronically ill or of retirement age, you are entitled to free gas safety checks from your gas supplier as part of the Priority Services Register scheme.  To find out more about the scheme, click here.


Get repair work carried out immediately


If you suspect that any gas appliances in your home may be faulty, you should either:

  • report this to your landlord immediately if you are renting, or
  • get the appliance checked over by a registered gas engineer if you are a home owner.

Repairs to gas equipment must be carried out by registered gas engineers. You can find a registered installer through the Gas Safe Register website. You may want to get more than one quote for the repairs.

Before you let a gas engineer into your home, ask to see their Gas Safe Register identification first. If you’re not convinced that they’re genuine, check that the installer is listed on their website.

Remember – never DIY with gas, it’s dangerous and likely to be illegal.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.


Gas safety checks

Gas safety checks


All gas appliances in your property need to be safety checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer annually. If the gas appliances in your home are unsafe, you could be at risk of fire, explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning.

For information on gas safety, call the HSE’s free Gas Safety Advice Line on 0800 300 363.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Landlords’ obligations in respect of gas safety have not changed during the coronavirus pandemic.

You should inform your landlord of any gas safety issues by phone, email or online as soon as you can.

You are able to allow the council, your landlord or contractors in to your property to inspect or fix any urgent health and safety issues. Anyone who comes to your property should follow current Welsh Government guidance on social distancing.

Annual gas safety checks remain an important legal requirement but they should be rearranged if anyone in your house:

  • has symptoms of COVID-19
  • are self-isolating.

Further guidance for tenants and landlords is available on the Gas Safe Register website.


Carbon monoxide


Carbon monoxide gas is known as the ‘silent killer’ because it’s invisible and has no smell. It’s also very poisonous and can kill quickly. Carbon monoxide can be produced if:

  • gas appliances are not installed or maintained properly
  • gas appliances are broken or not working properly
  • flues or chimneys become blocked
  • rooms are not adequately ventilated.

Children, elderly people, pregnant women and people with respiratory problems are particularly at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning. The symptoms are similar to those of flu, and include tiredness, headaches, nausea, chest pains, sudden faintness, erratic behaviour, diarrhoea and stomach pains.

If you regularly suffer from any of these symptoms and have gas appliances in your home, ask your doctor for a blood or breath test for carbon monoxide. If you are tested positively for the effects of carbon monoxide, you should immediately turn off your gas appliances and arrange for them to be checked by a registered gas installer.

The Gas Safe Register website has more information.


What should I do in an emergency?


If you think there may be a gas leak in your home (for example, if you smell gas or your carbon monoxide detector goes off), there are several things you need to do :

  • if you can, turn off the gas supply at the meter
  • get out immediately, leaving the doors and windows open if possible for ventilation. Remember, don’t turn any electrical switches on or off (this includes light switches and the doorbell) and don’t smoke
  • warn your neighbours
  • call the National Gas Emergency number – 0800 111 999 (If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, you can use a textphone (Minicom) on 0800 371 787). An engineer will come out free of charge and disconnect either the leaking appliance or the entire gas supply if necessary. If possible, they will fix the problem straight away. Otherwise, they will isolate the faulty appliance so you can’t use it and turn the gas supply back on again. You’ll then need to arrange for a Gas Safe registered engineer to come and fix the appliance.
  • report the leak to your gas supplier (for example, British Gas).
  • If you think you’ve been exposed to carbon monoxide gas, go to see a doctor immediately and ask for a blood or breath test.

If you are disabled, chronically ill or of retirement age, you might be covered by the Priority Services Register scheme and get more help.  Click here for more information.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an adviser
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Complaining to the Ombudsman

Complaining to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales


If the council or housing association won’t carry out repairs to your home and you’ve tried using your landlord’s complaints procedure but you’re not satisfied with the result, you may be able to complain to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.



What can the Ombudsman do?


The Ombudsman will not investigate every complaint made to them. If they do decide to investigate your complaint, they will look into the way your landlord has dealt with your request for repairs, and decide whether they acted fairly and followed the correct procedures. If they agree with your complaint, they can recommend that your landlord takes steps to put things right, and may suggest that they pay you compensation.

The Ombudsman’s decisions are not legally binding, but most landlords will usually follow them.


How do I make a complaint?


The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has information and forms explaining how to make a complaint on their website. You can submit a complaint online, using their online complaint form, or you can download, print off and send a complaint form by post.

If this is not possible, you could also email [email protected], phone 0300 790 0203  or complain by any other method appropriate to your needs.

Whichever way you complain, you should try and include all of the following information so that the Ombudsman can make a decision :

  • when the disrepair started or was noticed
  • the effect that the disrepair has had on you or members of your household
  • how and when you complained about the disrepair to your landlord
  • what you hope to achieve by complaining to the Ombudsman
  • whether you have considered legal action  as an alternative to approaching the Ombudsman
  • copies of the most relevant documents that the Ombudsman needs to consider, such as tenancy agreement, photographs of the repairs that need to be done and letters / emails of complaints
  • copies of any doctor’s notes or hospital reports which show that your health has been affected by the problem
  • receipts for any money you need to spend because of the repair problem (eg if you had to replace damaged belongings)
  • authorisation to act for someone else if necessary.

It is worth getting advice before you make your complaint. A Shelter Cymru adviser can help you put together the arguments you will need, and might be able to help you fill in the forms.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an adviser
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Court action for disrepair

Taking court action for disrepair


If your landlord refuses to carry out repairs, or does them badly, it may be possible to take them to court. You might be able to get a court order instructing your landlord to do the work that’s needed, or claim compensation.



Is court action appropriate?


You can take court action if you’ve asked your landlord to do repairs but they aren’t done within a reasonable period.

You can ask the court to order your landlord to:

  • carry out the repairs needed
  • pay you compensation.

In urgent situations it is sometimes possible for the court to order that your landlord carries out repairs immediately, by making an injunction.

Court action can however be complicated and sometimes slow. It can also be expensive, unless you are entitled to legal aid.

Court action should be a last resort. You should only consider it if you can afford it and have tried other options.


What does it cost?


Court fees
You usually have to pay court fees to take legal action. Fees can be reduced or waived if you claim benefits or have a low income.

Find out more about court fees on HM Courts and Tribunal Service.

Expert fees
You might need to pay for:

  • an expert’s report to tell the court about the condition of your home
  • a medical report if your health has been affected.

A solicitor can arrange these for you.

If you win your case, you can claim back these costs from your landlord.

Legal aid
If you are on a low income legal aid might be able to help you with your fees.

You can only get legal aid:

  • to order your landlord to carry out repair work that puts you or others in your household at risk
  • if your landlord has started the eviction process due to rent arrears and your defence includes that repairs weren’t done.

You can check if you can get legal aid on the Gov.uk website.

If you are a council or housing association tenant sometimes it might be easier and less expensive to complain to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales instead.


Where do I start?


Taking court action for disrepair can be a long and complicated process.

You may need help from a solicitor, but if your case can be dealt with in the small claims’ court, you may be able to represent yourself.

Call the Civil Legal Advice helpline on 0345 345 4 345 or contact Shelter Cymru for initial advice.

The Royal Court of Justice Advice Bureau has produced a series of leaflets to help people understand the County Court process.


Preparing for your case


1. Report repairs
Before you start court proceedings you must report the repairs to your landlord.

You don’t have to report repair problems if they are in communal areas, like shared hallways or the lift, but it is always best to let the landlord know.

2. Gather evidence
You’ll need evidence to back up your claim, such as:

  • photographs of the things that need repairing
  • your belongings that have been affected (such as clothes damaged by damp), or photographs of them. Work out how much they are worth
  • copies of any letters you send to your landlord, and any written response you have received from them
  • notes of any conversations you have with your landlord. Include dates, and what was agreed
  • copies of any doctor’s notes or hospital reports which show that your health has been affected by the problem
  • receipts for any money you need to spend because of the repair problem (eg if you have to replace clothes or furnishings because of mould)
  • energy bills if you have had to spend more eg because of defects to your heating system.

3. Get an expert’s report
It is possible that the court will need a report from experts such as an environmental health officer or surveyor. You can find surveyors in your area through the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors website. If possible you should try and agree the appointment of a surveyor with your landlord.

Use our sample letter Repairs 9 : letter of instruction to send to a surveyor but remember a surveyor’s report will cost you money. Find out how much it will cost before sending the letter of instruction to make sure you can afford it. In some situations you may be able to get legal aid to help cover the costs.

4. Record details
Use our schedules to record all of the important details of your claim :


Do I need to warn the landlord before I start court action?


Yes. There is a special procedure, which must be followed in all disrepair cases. This is called the Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Disrepair Cases. Before you start court action you must send a letter containing certain details to your landlord.

Your letter must:

  • explain what the disrepair problem is
  • set out details of when you previously notified your landlord of the problem (you will need to show to the court that you have already sent an ‘early notification letter’ to your landlord setting out details of disrepair – use our sample Repairs 7 : early notification letter template)
  • give the landlord 20 working days to put the problem right – unless the repair is urgent
  • state that if the landlord doesn’t put the problem right within that time, you intend to take them to court.

This letter is called a ‘letter of claim’. An adviser can help you prepare this letter or you can adapt our sample Repairs 8 : letter of claim. If, after the 20 working days are up, your landlord still hasn’t put the problem right, you can start a claim in the county court.


How can a court order help?


The court will look at all the evidence you and your landlord have provided in order to decide if your landlord should do the repairs and, if so, what needs to be done about it.

You could ask the court to:

  • make an injunction, ordering your landlord to carry out specific repairs by a certain time
  • make a declaration that you can do the repairs yourself and deduct the cost from future rent and that the landlord won’t be able to evict you for arrears.

In emergency situations (eg if it’s dangerous to live in the property) the court may order your landlord to carry out the work immediately. The court may also decide that your landlord should pay you compensation.


What if the landlord doesn’t comply?


A landlord who does not carry out the works specified in a court order could be fined or even imprisoned. You will probably have to go back to court to take further action, but should not have to start the whole process again.



Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
08000 495 495


Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.