Reporting repairs and allowing access if you have a community landlord

Reporting repairs and allowing access if you have a community landlord

  • Repairs should be reported to your landlord as soon as possible
  • Your landlord must give you 24 hours’ notice if they want to enter your home for inspections or repairs 

If you rent from a community landlord you must let them know about any repair work that needs doing. Your landlord should give you at least 24 hours’ notice in writing before they come to your home to carry out repairs or inspect what needs to be done. 

How do I report repairs? 

Report all repairs to your landlord as soon as possible. Do this even if the repair is minor and you’re not that bothered about getting it fixed. 

It is probably a supplementary term of your occupation contract that you report repairs as soon as you can. Your landlord should have given you information about how to contact them to report repairs. There should be an emergency number you can call out-of-office hours. 

You should be able to report repairs online, in person, by phone or text. You should always follow this up with a letter or email confirming the details. Make sure you date any letters and keep copies. 

What happens when I report the problem? 

After you report the problem, your landlord should tell you whether the repair needs to be done and if it is their responsibility. If they agree that they are responsible, they should tell you when the repair work will be completed. If your landlord is the council, they should confirm whether or not the repair is covered by the right to repair scheme. 

Your occupation contract (or other documents your landlord has provided) may tell you how long a particular type of repair should take to be fixed. Certain repairs, such as blocked drains or problems with gas should be carried out urgently. Call the Gas emergency number 0800 111 999 immediately if there is a gas leak or you notice any signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.  

If the repairs aren’t done within a reasonable time community landlords should have an official complaints procedure you can use. If you are not happy with the response you get, you may then be able to: 

  • complain to the ombudsman 
  • take your landlord to court 
  • contact the environmental health department 
  • do the repairs yourself and deduct the cost from your rent. It is important that you’re careful if you want to do this. You must follow certain rules. Deducting from rent can also increase the risk of being evicted because of rent arrears. For more information about this procedure click here. 

Allowing your landlord access 

You should allow your landlord access to the property at reasonable times so they can assess what repairs are needed and carry out the work. Your landlord (or anyone acting on your landlord’s behalf) should give you at least 24 hours’ notice in writing before coming round, unless it’s an emergency. They don’t have to give you notice to do work in communal areas such as shared hallways or lifts. 

If your landlord needs to get access to your home in an emergency, they are entitled to break in if necessary (for example, if a pipe bursts in your home while you’re away and water is leaking into other properties nearby). However, your landlord will have to repair any damage caused if they force entry. 

Although your landlord should arrange for repairs to be done, they may ask you to be at home to let in any contractors.  

Keep records 

Most often the landlord will carry out the necessary repairs. However if you need to take any further action, you should collect all the evidence you can of the repairs that are needed, and what you have done to get your landlord to carry them out. 

Download our disrepair factsheet for further information on what type of evidence you will need to gather. 

Housing help if your home is flooded

Housing help if your home is flooded

  • You are entitled to help from the council if you are homeless because of flooding in your home
  • If you rent your home you might still need to pay rent even if you can’t stay there while it is cleaned and repaired
  • You might be entitled to help from housing benefit if you are liable for rent for two properties 

Find out below about rehousing and repair rights if your home is flooded. 

If your home has recently been flooded you might be able get an Emergency Assistance Payment from the Welsh Government Discretionary Assistance Fund to help with emergency costs. 

How do I find out about potential flooding in my area? 

To find out if homes in your area are at risk of floods: 

  • check with Natural Resources Wales 
  • sign up for free flood warnings direct to your mobile (in Welsh or English) 
  • sign up to receive Twitter alerts during flooding and other major environmental incidents via @NatResWales 
  • check local radio and television bulletins. 

If you’re told to leave during a flood 

You must leave your home if you’re told to by the emergency services or the council. You could put yourself and others at risk if you don’t leave. 

Flooded houses can be dangerous due to sewage, water damaged electrics and damage to the gas supply. 

If this will be difficult for you, for example if you have mobility problems, get in touch with your local council. Councils usually have arrangements for emergency evacuation and help during a flood. 

If you are homeless after a flood 

People made homeless by a flood are automatically in priority need and your council will have a duty to provide you with emergency accommodation. 

Contact your local council as soon as possible to make a homelessness application. To find your local council, click here. 

Will I be rehoused? 

If you rent from a private landlord
Your private landlord isn’t usually responsible for finding you somewhere else to live if you have to move out due to a flood. 

Your landlord may have an insurance policy that pays for alternative accommodation for contract-holders. Contact your landlord to ask. 

If you rent from a community landlord
If you rent your home from a community landlord, they should provide temporary accommodation if you have to move out. 

What do I do if my home is flooded? 

Contact your insurance company
Most companies have a 24-hour helpline you can call. The staff will tell you what you need to do to make a claim. 

Clean up
Before you start cleaning up, take photographs of the damage and mark the highest level of the floodwater on your wall. This will help make your insurance claim. 

Floodwater is usually dirty, and can contain sewage, chemicals and other contaminants. You’ll need to disinfect thoroughly any areas affected by floodwaters, to avoid infection. Wear protective clothing when you’re doing this. 

Don’t be tempted to throw away damaged furniture, carpets and other belongings until your insurance company has given you the go-ahead. 

Dry out your home
Before you move back into your home and start redecorating, your home will need to dry out completely. This may take several weeks, or even months, depending on the severity of the flooding and the materials your home is made from. 

Start repairing damage and redecorating
Depending on the extent of the damage, you (or your landlord if you’re renting) may need to get a builder, structural engineer or surveyor in to look at your home and advise you on what repair work needs doing. 

Homeowners must get the go-ahead from their insurers before hiring any contractors. Most insurance firms have a list of approved builders, joiners and other contractors, but you can choose other contractors if you wish. It’s worth remembering that, in the event of any dispute over the work, it’ll be easier to sort things out if you’ve hired a contractor approved by the insurance company. 

Watch out for companies taking advantage of the situation and touting for business from door to door in areas hit by floods. It’s important that any contractors you hire are experienced in restoring properties damaged by flooding. They will ensure that the work is done safely and hygienically, and can offer you advice on making your home more flood resistant for the future. 

Get gas and electricity systems checked
It’s very important that you get your electrical and gas systems checked by a registered contractor before you attempt to use them. Even if they appear to work, they may have been damaged by water or mud, and could be dangerous.

Repairs after a flood 

If you rent your home, your landlord will be responsible for most repairs to the property. 

Your landlord’s buildings insurance could cover flood damage to your home. 

Your landlord can repair your home so that it’s fit for you to live in again. This could take some time if major works are needed. 

In extreme situations, your landlord could decide not to repair a flood damaged home. Get advice if this happens to you. 

If you have to move out
You may have to move out of the house you rent while essential repairs are being done. 

If you do have to leave your home, get your landlord’s agreement in writing to confirm that: 

  • you had to move out due to flooding 
  • you’ll be able to move back after repairs are finished 

You can also ask for an estimate of how long repairs will take. 

If you own your own home
If you are a homeowner, you will be responsible for any repairs that are needed, as well as for replacing any belongings that have been damaged. You should have buildings insurance to cover the repairs and contents insurance for your belongings. 

Can I get help paying rent for a flooded home? 

If you have to move out while essential repairs are being carried out, your landlord might expect you to keep paying rent for your flooded home. You must keep paying the rent even if your home is being repaired and you can use only one or two rooms. 

You may be eligible for housing benefit or universal credit housing costs  for your temporary accommodation. However, you will not normally be entitled to payments on more than one home. So, if you remain liable to pay rent on your normal home as well, the local council can decide which home housing benefit or universal credit will be paid for. 

If you are still paying rent on your home, you could ask your landlord to pay something towards the cost of your temporary accommodation. Your landlord might have insurance that covers this. You could also ask your landlord for a rent reduction or refund. Check if your occupation contract says anything about paying rent if your home cannot be lived in for any length of time. 

Payment for damaged belongings 

If you are renting your home your landlord isn’t responsible for replacing or repairing any of your personal belongings that are flood damaged. 

If you don’t have your own contents insurance to pay for lost or damaged belongings, you might be able to get an Emergency Assistance Payment from the Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF). For more information on the DAF, included a link to apply online, click here. You can also apply by ringing 0800 859 5924 (9.30am – 4pm Mon-Fri). 

For more information on emergency financial help see our pages on cash in a crisis. 

Overcrowding

Overcrowding

Find out if your home is legally overcrowded and what you can do if you are living in overcrowded conditions. 

What is overcrowding? 

If your accommodation is much too small for your household you may be legally overcrowded. 

There are two ways to calculate if you are legally overcrowded: 

  • The ‘room standard’: look at the number and sex of people who have to sleep in the same room 
  • The ‘space standard’: measure the amount of space in your home and the number of people living in it. 

The room standard 

Your home is overcrowded by law if: 

  • 2 people of a different sex have to sleep in the same room 
  • they are aged 10 or over. 

The exceptions to this rule are: 

  • cohabiting or married couples, who can live in the same room without causing overcrowding 
  • children under the age of ten, who are completely ignored in the calculation. 

Any room you can sleep in counts, not just bedrooms. Living room, dining rooms and studies count as rooms you can sleep in, even if you don’t actually do so. 

Example 

A couple with a boy and a girl aged under the age of 10 in a one bedroom flat are not overcrowded (because the children are ignored). 

The space standard 

There are two ways to work out if you’re overcrowded using the space standard. 

First count the number of people in your home: 

  • don’t include children under 1 year old 
  • children aged 1 to 9 years count as a half 
  • anyone aged 10 or over counts as one person. 

Next, count the number of rooms or measure the floor space of each room. 

Don’t count any room that is: 

  • under 50 square feet or 4.6 square metres 
  • not a bedroom or living room 

As a general rule, the number of rooms considered enough for your family is: 

  • 1 room = 2 people 
  • 2 rooms = 3 people 
  • 3 rooms = 5 people 
  • 4 rooms = 7.5 people 
  • 5 or more rooms = 2 people per room. 

The minimum floor area considered enough for your family is: 

  • 110 sq feet (10.2 sq metres approx) = 2 people 
  • 90 – 109 sq ft (8.4 – 10.2 sq m approx) = 1.5 people 
  • 70 – 89 sq ft (6.5 – 8.4 sq m approx) = 1 person 
  • 50 – 69 sq ft (4.6 – 6.5 sq m approx) = 0.5 people. 

If the numbers are different, the lower number is used. Your home is legally overcrowded if the number of people living there is more than this. 

What can I do if I am living in overcrowded accommodation? 

Private contract-holders
As a standard contract-holder with a private landlord it is unlikely that you can make your home larger. You will probably have to consider other housing. This might mean: 

  • finding a larger private rented home 
  • applying for a community landlord home 
  • asking the council to help you because you are homeless (making a ‘homeless application‘). 

If you are legally overcrowded and you make a homeless application the council will probably have to give you some advice and help. If the council decide that it is no longer reasonable for you to continue to live in the property they will have to help you find a home, or in some situations, help you work out a way to stay in your current home. In severe cases, the council might have to provide you with alternative emergency accommodation. 

You may get priority on the waiting list for an occupation contact with a community landlord. How quickly you would get a place depends on the number of people on the waiting list and the amount of housing available. Many community landlords have very long waiting lists and a shortage of properties suitable for large families. 

Community landlord contract-holders
It may be possible to get a transfer to another property owned by your community landlord. Most councils operate a common waiting list to access the community landlords in their area, while in some areas you need to apply to each landlord – ask the council for information about the rules. You may have to wait a long time for somewhere suitable, especially if you need a large property. 

Alternatively, you may be able to swap homes by mutual exchange with another contract-holder, possibly in another part of the country. You must both have permission from your landlords and the exchange must be arranged properly. Otherwise, you could both lose your homes. 

Don’t give up an overcrowded home without getting help first. You could risk not being able to get another council or housing association home. 

Problems with neighbours

Problems with neighbours

  • The council’s environmental health department might be able to help deal with noise problems. 
  • If you are being harassed in or near your home you might be able to get support to help resolve the situation, or help getting rehoused  

If your neighbours are noisy or are harassing you and you need help or are not sure of your rights, what you do depends how bad the problem is. It might be appropriate to call the police, especially if you or someone else is being threatened. Alternatively, your council mightbe able to help.

You can find further details about reporting antisocial behaviour on the UK Government website. 

Noise issues 

Some noise is acceptable. Whether you can do anything about noisy neighbours depends on the individual situation. Before you can act the noise must be so loud that you can’t use your home in the normal way. This might be the case if you are woken up by the noise or you can’t hear your own TV above the noise. 

The action you can take depends on: 

  • the type of noise 
  • the time of day or night the noise happens 
  • how often it happens 
  • how long it goes on for 
  • how it affects you 
  • the type of building (older homes often have less sound insulation). 

Negotiating with your neighbour 

The first step in dealing with noise is negotiation. Talk to the person causing the noise. You should explain how the noise is affecting you. Try to reach a compromise. Do this as early as possible before the problem gets too serious. It can be helpful to include a third person in a discussion with your neighbour. There may be mediation agencies in your area that could help you negotiate. 

Talking to your neighbours’ landlord 

If your neighbours are renting and talking to them directly doesn’t work, it may be worth talking to their landlord. They may be breaking the terms of their occupation contract by making the noise. Their landlord may be able to deal with the problem or warn them that continuing to make the noise could leave them open to being evicted. 

Taking action with other people 

If other people are being affected by the problems your neighbours are causing, you may be able to take action together. There may be a residents’ association or other group in your area that can help you to do this. 

Keeping records 

If the noise problem continues keep notes of: 

  • how long it lasts 
  • the time it occurred 
  • how loud it is 
  • whether anyone else heard it 
  • the occasions you spoke to your neighbours about it 
  • the effect it had on you. 

Contacting the council 

The environmental health department of the council has the power to deal with noise problems. An environmental health officer may visit you to monitor the noise. 

If the problem is serious enough the council may take action to stop your neighbours making noise. For example, the council may send a formal notice asking the noise to stop by a certain date. In extreme cases the council might be able to take your neighbours to court.

Harassment 

Harassment from neighbours can take many forms. It could include shouting, verbal abuse, threats or violence. It could be because of: 

  • your race, gender or sexuality 
  • a dispute such as over noise, parking or access 
  • a personal disagreement. 

Being harassed by your neighbours can have a very serious effect on your day-to-day life. If harassment forces you to move out, you may become homeless. If this happens, you may be entitled to help from the council. 

Keeping records 

You should keep records of all events in case they are needed later. This might include: 

  • a diary of events 
  • photographs 
  • copies of letters 
  • details of witnesses to events. 

Contacting the police 

You should contact the police if you are: 

  • threatened with violence 
  • experiencing racial harassment or 
  • if your property is damaged. 

The police have powers to take action against people who are guilty of harassment. Even if the police can’t help it’s worth reporting incidents to them so that there is evidence in case it is needed later. 

Moving out 

If all attempts to resolve the situation have failed you may want to find somewhere else to live. In cases of serious neighbour harassment, you may be able to say that you can no longer live at your home because it is unreasonable to do so. In this case, the council may have to help you under homelessness law. 

Mediation 

If you are having a dispute with a neighbour it is a good idea to seek mediation to resolve problems before they get worse. A mediator won’t tell you what to do, and won’t make judgements about who is in the right. Instead, they will help you to talk to each other, in the hope that you can reach an agreement about things. 

Many community landlords have access to mediation services for their contract-holders. Alternatively, some solicitors also offer mediation services, or you could search on the online Directory of UK mediators. 

Mediation is not appropriate if your neighbour has behaved in a violent or threatening manner towards you. If this is the case you should contact the police and get help as soon as possible. 

Getting adaptations

Getting adaptations

If you are elderly or disabled and cannot get around the property, or use all the facilities, it may be possible to get adaptations carried out to make your home more suitable for you. 

What adaptations do I need? 

You will need to know what adaptations you need before deciding whether it is possible to stay in your home. You also need to work out how much work needs to be done and how much it is likely to cost. 

Things to consider include the following: 

Access to your home
You may want to consider installing adaptations, such as: 

  • a ramp for wheelchair users to get in and out of your home 
  • a wheelchair lift if it isn’t possible to install a ramp 
  • grab rails outside the front door. 

Answering the door
You could consider using: 

  • a door entry intercom – to let visitors in and out, both for security and convenience. You may also wish to consider an intercom with a video screen to check out callers 
  • a key safe – this is where a key is kept in a secure box outside the property and only certain people are given the code to open it. You might also consider giving spare keys to relatives, friends or neighbours. 

Moving around your home
If there is a wheelchair user in your household, think about: 

  • widening door frames and installing new doors 
  • having everything on one floor 
  • installing a stair lift 
  • fitting a ‘through-floor’ wheelchair lift – this involves making a hole in the ceiling(s) and installing a lift to move between floors 

Second banister rails can also be installed so you can hold onto both sides to help you get up and down stairs more easily and safely. 

Washing and getting dressed
There are a number of different adaptations that can make washing and dressing easier, such as installing: 

  • a wet room – a waterproofed room with a walk-in shower that isn’t separated by a step 
  • a hoist to lift you in and out of the bath 
  • grab rails to make it easier to get in and out of the bath. 

Emergency exits
If you or someone in your household is disabled, or has reduced mobility, think about how you will get out of the property in the event of an emergency. For people with serious mobility problems, consider having your bedroom as close as possible to an exit or a safe area. 

Smoke alarms
If you or someone in your household has a hearing impairment, think about installing smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or a flashing light. You could also place smoke alarms with strobe lights outside your home to get the attention of neighbours or members of the public. 

If you rent your home your landlord has responsibility to install smoke alarms.  Another thing worth thinking about is an emergency alarm call system – this is an alarm which plugs into your telephone and calls for outside help in the event of a fire. 

Gov.Uk have produced a fire safety leaflet for those with sight, hearing or mobility difficulties. 

In the bedroom
There are a number of adaptations you can use to get into and stay in bed, such as an adjustable bed, leg lifters or rails to stop you from falling out of bed. 

Gadgets
A number of gadgets are available to people with disabilities. You can get more information and factsheets from the Disabled Living Foundation. 

Do I need my landlord’s agreement to have adaptations? 

If you rent your home, you will need your landlord’s agreement before any adaptations are carried out. Contact your landlord as soon as possible and explain what adaptations you need. 

It is important to think about what rights you have before getting adaptations done. It may not be worth you getting them done if your landlord could evict you easily or you have a short-term renting agreement. 

Can I get help to get the adaptations done? 

Whether you own or rent your home, you might be able to get help for any adaptations through the ENABLE – Support for Independent Living scheme. 

Under the scheme, there are three levels of adaptations: 

  • small – such as hand rails, portable ramps etc. These can usually be fitted for you free of charge regardless of your means. 
  • medium – such as stair lifts, wider doors etc. You might need to pay a contribution towards these, depending upon your income and savings. 
  • large – these are adaptations that need significant work on your home, such as an extension or a though-floor lift. You are likely to have to pay a contribution towards these, depending upon your income and savings. You will also need a needs assessment by social services. 

For more information on the scheme, including who to contact in your area to make an application, look at the UK Government website. 

Can I get a grant? 

Under the ENABLE scheme, small adaptations are generally provided free of charge. 

For adaptations costing over £1,000, you may be able to get a council grant, known as a Disabled Facilities Grant, to cover some or all of the cost. Disabled Facilities Grants can provide up to £36,000. Whether or not you will get a grant depends on: 

  • the reason the adaptations are needed 
  • your income and savings 
  • how much money the council has in its budget. 

Contract-holders and homeowners can apply for grants. Application forms are available from the council. 

For more information on Disabled Facilities Grants see here. 

If you think you might need help paying for care and support at home, on top of any adaptations, then see our advice here. 

Is moving out your best option? 

If you can’t get adaptations done you may need to look into other housing options. You could consider: 

  • moving to a specially adapted property 
  • moving to sheltered housing – where you can live independently, but with somebody looking out for you in case of emergencies 
  • moving to a care home – depending on your age and disability. 

You may be able to get help from the council if it is not reasonable for you to stay in your home. Contact a Shelter Cymru adviser who can discuss your options with you. 

Where can I get more help and information? 

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a helpful guide Your rights to accessible and adaptable housing in Wales which contains lots of useful information about adapting your home, whether you are a tenant or owner. 

The council’s social services department may be able to carry out a needs assessment that will include adaptations if necessary. For older and disabled people Care and Repair Cymru may be able to help you organise adaptations to your home. 

What can you do when the power goes off?

What can you do when the power goes off?

  • If you rent your home the electrics should be tested every five years 
  • You should be given a copy of the electrical report within 14 days of your occupation contract starting 

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, or take your landlord to court. 

If you are in this situation you should get help. 

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. 

Responsibilities for electrical safety

Responsibilities for electrical safety

  • If you have a secure or standard occupation contract, the electrics in your home should be tested every five years 
  • You should be given a copy of the electrical report within 14 days of your occupation contract starting 

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

What responsibilities do landlords have? 

If you have a secure or standard occupation contract, your landlord must ensure: 

  • that the electrics in your home are tested every five years 
  • that you are provided with the electrical condition report within 14 days of your occupation contract starting  
  • that the electrics in the property are safe when your occupation contract begins 
  • that the electrics are maintained in a safe condition throughout your contract 
  • ensure that any appliance provided is safe and has at least the CE or UKCA marking.

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. 

Restrictions on eviction if your landlord doesn’t provide an electrical report

If your landlord has not provided you with a valid Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) then they may not be able to give you a ‘no fault’ eviction notice. Find out more in our Eviction pages.

If you have received notice from your landlord, get help urgently.

PAT testing

If your home was provided furnished with electrical appliances, then these appliances should also be PAT tested. Each tested appliance should have a PAT (portable appliance test) sticker on 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 private landlords and agents of rented homes under a standard occupation contract 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 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 disrepair affecting health for more information) 
  • get help from Shelter Cymru.

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 brought to the property yourself. 

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

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.  

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

Fire safety precautions

Fire safety precautions

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

Smoke alarms 

Your landlord must ensure that there are mains-connected smoke alarms on each floor of your home 

If you moved into your home before 1 December 2022, your landlord they install smoke alarms by 1 December 2023. 

If your landlord has failed to comply with the above requirements, your home may be unfit to live in. Find out what this means and what you can do here 

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. 

Responsibilities for fire safety

Responsibilities for fire safety

  • If you rent your home it’s usually a legal requirment that your landlord has installed smoke alarms
  • If your landlord doesn’t comply with fire safety rules it might be more difficult for them to evict you 

Responsibility for fire safety 

If you rent your home and have a secure or standard occupation contract, 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 the electrical installation in your home are tested every five years 
  • that you are provided with the electrical condition report with 14 days of your occupation contract starting 
  • that electrical installations in the property are safe when your occupation contract begins 
  • that electrical installations are maintained in a safe condition throughout your contract 
  • that any appliance provided is safe and has the British Safety Standard sign. 

Find out more about electrical safety in the home here.

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 
  • that you are provided with the gas safety report with 14 days of your occupation contract starting 

Carbon monoxide detectors

Your landlord must also provide carbon monoxide detectors where there are gas appliances, coal or wood fires in your home. 

Find out more about gas safety in the home. 

Smoke alarms 

Your landlord must ensure that there are mains-connected smoke alarms on each floor of your home. Each alarm must be connected to the others, so if one smoke alarm is activated all the smoke alarms in your home will be activated.

If you moved into your home before 1 December 2022, your landlord must install smoke alarms by 1 December 2023. 

If your landlord has failed to comply with the above requirements, your home may be unfit to live in. Find out what this means and what you can do here 

Restrictions on eviction if your landlord doesn’t install smoke alarms

If your landlord has not installed smoke alarms then they may not be able to give you a ‘no fault’ eviction notice. Find out more in our Eviction pages.

If you have received notice from your landlord, get help urgently.

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 occupation contracts 
  • a bed and breakfast or hotel which is not just for holidays. 

Fire precautions 

In addition to the requirements above, 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).

What about 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. 

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 help 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. 

Gas safety precautions

Gas safety precautions

  • All gas appliances in your property need to be safety checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer annually
  • If you rent your home and have gas appliances, your landlord must provide carbon monoxide alarms 

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. 

If you rent your home and have a secure or standard occupation contract, your landlord must provide working carbon monoxide detectors where there are gas appliances. Your landlord should have done this by 1 December 2022. 

If you have gas appliances and your landlord has not provided a carbon monoxide alarm, your home is classed as unfit to live in. If you are in this situation and your landlord is refusing to provide a carbon monoxide alarm, find out what you can do here.   

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 contract-holder/s. 

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 contract-holder, 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.