Responsibilities for repairs if you have a community landlord

Responsibilities for repairs if you have a community landlord

  • Landlords are responsible for most major repairs 
  • You are probably responsible for any damage you cause 
  • You should check the supplementary and additional terms of your contract thoroughly  

Responsibilities for repairs 

Community landlords are normally responsible for most repairs. If you rent from a community landlord, you are probably only responsible for some minor maintenance and for putting right any damage you have caused. 

Download our disrepair factsheet for further information. 

What am I responsible for? 

As a contract-holder you have to use your home in a responsible way. This involves: 

  • keeping your home reasonably clean 
  • not damaging the property and ensuring that your guests don’t either 
  • carrying out minor maintenance, like changing light bulbs 
  • using the heating properly, (eg not blocking flues or ventilation). 

In most cases, you will also be responsible for interior decoration. Also, if your contract says that you are responsible for something that isn’t automatically your landlord’s legal responsibility as listed below (eg. maintaining the garden) then it is probably valid. Your occupation contract should set out exactly who is responsible for what. 

If you cause any damage to the property or the furniture, even if it’s accidental, you are liable for the costs of repairing or replacing the damaged item/s.

What is my landlord responsible for? 

Your landlord will always be responsible for repairs (unless your occupation contract is for a fixed term of 7 years or more) to: 

  • the structure and exterior of the building – this includes the roof, walls, windows and external doors 
  • central heating, gas fires, fireplaces, flues, ventilation and chimneys 
  • water, pipes, basins, sinks, toilets and baths, drains and guttering 
  • gas pipes, electrical wiring, and any appliances provided 
  • common parts such as lift, communal entrances. 

Landlords have certain extra responsibilities for gas, electrical and fire safety in your home. 

They must also make sure that your home is fit to live in and free from any hazards that could affect the health and safety of anyone in your household. 

Your occupation contract may give your landlord extra obligations, such as the maintenance of fences or boundary walls around your home – check to see what it says. 

What about damp? 

Your home could be affected by any of the 3 common types of damp: 

  • condensation 
  • penetrating damp 
  • rising damp. 

It isn’t always easy to work out who is responsible for sorting out problems with damp, because it’s often difficult to identify what’s causing the problem. But your landlord will usually be responsible if the damp is the result of: 

  • leaking pipes 
  • a structural defect (such as a leaking roof) 
  • an existing damp proof course that is no longer working (if there wasn’t one to begin with, your landlord does not have to put one in). 

Condensation is often caused by lack of ventilation, lack of insulation, and/or inadequate heating. Where this is the case, the landlord must take steps to remedy the problem, for example, by improving the heating or ventilation in the property. Bear in mind though that condensation can also be caused by drying clothes indoors or not using heating systems properly. If this is the case, your landlord is probably not responsible. 

You may be able to ask for the council’s environmental health department to inspect your home if your landlord doesn’t fix the damp problem. They can inspect the property and take action against the landlord if they think there is damp and/or mould growth causing a hazard. However, if your landlord is the council, then environmental health will not be able to take enforcement action. 

If you are having issues getting your landlord to do repairs, or make your home fit to live in, you should use their complaints procedure. If they do not resolve your complaint you can complain to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. 

What about my own appliances and installations? 

Your landlord is only responsible for maintaining any electrical appliances and installations that have been supplied with the property. 

They are not responsible for repairing any appliances or installations that belong to you or which you have had installed. For example, if you have bought a dishwasher or tumble drier and had it installed, you will be responsible for its upkeep.

What about communal areas? 

Your landlord is responsible for repairs to areas that are shared with other people, such as hallways, stairs, or lifts. 

What about gardens? 

Your occupation contract should say who has responsibility for the upkeep of your garden. It is often your responsibility as the contract-holder, although this doesn’t mean that you will have to improve the garden if it is in a mess when you move in. 

If the garden is shared with other residents, you may all share responsibility for the upkeep, unless one resident has agreed to take it on. However, if the garden is not mentioned at all it is possible that neither you nor your landlord has responsibility.

What about decorating and other work? 

Contract-holders are usually responsible for the internal decorations unless work is needed because of dampness or disrepair that is the landlord’s responsibility. You should check the supplementary and additional terms of your occupation contract to see if you need the landlord’s consent to redecorate. Contract-holders in community landlord homes can usually redecorate without needing permission. However, if you want to carry out major work or alterations in your home or other buildings (e.g. a shed or garage) you will probably need to get written consent from your landlord.

Repairs if you have a community landlord

Repairs if you have a community landlord

If you have a community landlord and your home needs repairs, your landlord is responsible for most repairs, but you also have some responsibilities. This section explains who is responsible for what and what you can do if your landlord refuses to carry out repairs. 

You might want to download our Disrepair factsheet. 

If you are under 25 take a look at our Repairs and bad conditions advice page, specifically put together for young people. 

Retaliatory eviction if you ask for repairs

Retaliatory eviction if you ask for repairs

  • Standard contract-holders who ask for repairs have some protection against retaliatory eviction   
  • Courts can dismiss a possession claim if a ’no fault’ notice was given by the landlord to avoid repairs
  • Landlords can’t give a further ’no fault’ notice for 6 months if the court decides their claim is retaliatory 

What is ‘retaliatory’ eviction? 

A retaliatory or revenge eviction is when a landlord gives a ‘no fault’ eviction notice to a contract-holder who asks for repairs or complains about bad housing conditions.  

Your landlord might decide to use a ‘no fault’ notice to avoid carrying out repairs or making your home fit to live in. This type of notice can be given even when you have not breached your occupation contract.  

Landlords do not have to prove a legal reason to the court if they make a possession claim following a ‘no fault’ notice. This means that the court usually has to grant a possession order as long as your landlord followed the correct procedure. 

However, the court can dismiss the possession claim if the landlord is evicting you to avoid carrying out repairs or making your home fit to live in.

Who is at risk of retaliatory eviction? 

You could be at risk of retaliatory eviction if you have any of the following types of contract: 

However, if you have a secure contract you are not at risk of retaliatory eviction because your contract cannot be ended with a ‘no fault’ notice. 

Contract-holders who have a private landlord are usually at greater risk of retaliatory eviction than those who have a community landlord.

What if I am in rent arrears?

If you are in rent arrears, or have breached the contract in another way, your landlord might give you a ‘with grounds’ notice. This means the landlord would need to show the court that you are in arrears or have breached the contract.

You are not protected against retaliatory eviction if you receive a ‘with grounds’ notice.

If you are in serious rent arrears of 2 months or more and have a standard contract, you can be evicted very easily. Get help if you are in this situation.

 

Protection from retaliatory eviction 

The law protects standard contract-holders against retaliatory eviction.  

If your landlord applies to court for a possession order, you can inform the court that you believe you were given notice because you asked for repairs to be done or for your home to be made fit to live in 

If the court is satisfied that the landlord is trying to evict you because you asked for work to be done, they no longer have to give the landlord a possession order. 

This means that they can refuse the landlord’s application to evict you, or choose to make a different order.  

If you are an excluded occupier (e.g. a lodger) or an occupier with basic protection you are not protected against retaliatory eviction. Also, you are unlikely to be protected if you live in or temporary or supported accommodation but do not have a standard contract.  

How can I show the court that it’s a retaliatory eviction? 

There are some things you can do that could help show the court that it is a retaliatory eviction. You should:  

  • keep copies of all communication with your landlord 
  • follow our advice about reporting repairs 
  • keep records about previous problems with your landlord (e.g. have they been angry about requests for repairs before or harassed you etc.) Even if communication was verbal, make a note of it at the time and keep it in a safe place. 
  • show the court that you received notice after you asked your landlord for repairs 
  • if the council’s environmental health team are involved, ask for copies of the report and any letters or notices they have sent to the landlord  

Get help urgently if your landlord applies to the court. An adviser might be able to represent you in any court proceedings, and present your case to the court. 

Can my landlord just give me another ‘no fault’ notice? 

No. If the court has decided that your landlord’s claim was retaliatory because you asked for work to be done, your landlord cannot give you another ‘no fault’ (section 173 or landlord’s break clause) notice for 6 months.  

This means that in most cases your landlord will not be able to try to evict you in court for 1 year, unless you breach your occupation contract. You can find out more from our eviction advice pages.  

Other defences against ‘no fault’ evictions. 

There are a number of other reasons that a ‘no fault’ notice might not be valid. For example, if your deposit is not protected or you have not been given a gas safety certificate within the last year. To find out more read out advice about eviction.

What if my landlord starts harassing me to leave? 

Most renters can only be evicted by bailiffs with an eviction warrant. Some landlords might try to evict you without following the correct procedure, or make life difficult for you if you try to get them to do repairs. For instance, they might change the locks while you are out, or stop the supply to the property for electricity, or start repairs and leave them unfinished. If something like this happens, your landlord may be guilty of harassment or illegal eviction. These are serious criminal offences and you should get urgent help if your landlord takes any action intended to force you to leave your home. 

Claiming compensation for disrepair if you have a private landlord

Claiming compensation for disrepair if you have a private landlord

  • Disrepair in your home could make you ill, cause you inconvenience and stress or cause damage to your belongings  
  • You might be able to claim compensation in court even after you move out 
  • Court action can be complicated and costly, so it is best to try other options first 

How do I claim compensation? 

A claim for compensation against your landlord should be brought in the county court.  

Click here for details of what is involved in taking court action and what steps you must take before starting your claim. 

See Citizen’s Advice for details of how to start a claim. 

Claiming for damage to your belongings 

If items belonging to you or anyone in your household are damaged or destroyed because of your landlord’s failure to carry out repairs, you may be able to claim compensation. This includes clothing, bedding and curtains that have been spoilt by damp and mould, or carpets and furniture damaged by water leaking from burst pipes your landlord hasn’t fixed. Sometimes contents insurance taken out by you or your landlord may cover these items. 

You could also claim compensation for items damaged or broken while repair work was being carried out. 

How much can I claim? 


You can claim the amount of money it will cost you to replace the damaged or destroyed items. This may only be the secondhand value of the goods, unless it would not be possible to buy second hand replacements. 

How do I support my claim?

Collect as much evidence of the damage as you can. If possible, don’t throw away the spoilt items – they may be helpful if you can produce them in court. You should also take photographs of any damaged goods, and keep receipts to prove that you’ve had to replace things. If you still have the original receipts for things that have been damaged, it will help to prove their worth.

Claiming for damage to your health 

You can also claim compensation if you or anyone in your household has been injured or made ill (or their health has got worse) as a result of your landlord’s failure to carry out repairs. The health problems may be physical (eg chest infections caused or worsened by damp, or injuries caused by unsafe stairs) or mental (eg. distress). 

How much can I claim?

The amount of damages you can claim will depend on the severity of the illness. For example, if you’ve been unable to work as a result, you may be able to claim for loss of earnings and for any extra care you’ve needed. 

How do I support my claim? 

You’ll have to prove to the court that the disrepair and your health problem are linked. The disrepair doesn’t have to be the only cause of the health problems, but it must have been a contributing factor. 

For example, if your child has asthma which is made worse by the damp conditions in your home caused by your landlord’s failure to carry out repairs, this would count as a contributing factor to your child’s illness. You may have to produce a surveyor’s report to prove the extent of the disrepair, as well as a medical report from your doctor. 

Contact one of our advisers if you need help with getting these reports. 

Claiming for inconvenience 

You are also entitled to claim compensation if you’ve suffered inconvenience or have not been able to use your home in the normal way as a result of your landlord’s failure to carry out repairs to your home. The amount of compensation awarded by the court will depend on the level of disrepair and the effect that it has had on you.

Claiming back some of your rent 

If you haven’t been able to use your home, or part of it, because of the disrepair, you may be entitled to an abatement (a reduction or refund) of rent. How much you can claim will depend on how much of your home is uninhabitable. If no part of the house can be used, 100% of the rent may be abated. If only part of the house is unusable then the rent will be reduced proportionally. 

Abatement of rent is sometimes claimed under the heading of ‘inconvenience’, but you may be able to claim both, if the inconvenience is something other than the fact that you haven’t been able to use part of the property.  

Alternatives to going to court 

Court action can be complicated and costly, so it might be best to try other options first.  

If your landlord uses a lettings agent to manage your occupation contract, the law says they must be a member of an approved redress scheme.  

Letting agent redress schemes may not be able to award financial compensation. If they do it probably won’t be as much compensation that a court awards you if your court claim is successful. However, they are free to use and there is likely to be less risk and stress. Click here to find out more.

Taking court action if your landlord won’t do repairs

Taking court action if your landlord won’t do repairs

  • If your landlord doesn’t do repairs or does them badly, you might be able to take them to court.
  • You might be able to get Legal Aid to help with solicitor and court fees
  • If you have a standard occupation contract, your landlord can’t evict you for asking for work or repairs 

What can the court do? 

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: 

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 have tried other options.  

Always think carefully before starting court action if you have a private landlord. If you are a standard contract-holder your landlord can’t evict you to avoid carrying out work or repairs. However, if you are an occupier with basic protection or an excluded occupier you can be evicted easily.

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 might also be able to claim compensation if this is the case. 

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

Alternatives to going to court 

Court action can be complicated and costly, so it might be best to try other options first.  

If your landlord uses a lettings agent to manage your occupation contract, the law says they must be a member of an approved redress scheme.  

Letting agent redress schemes may not be able to award financial compensation. If they do it probably won’t be as much compensation as a court would award you if your court claim is successful. However, they are free to use and there is likely to be less risk and stress. Click here to find out more. 

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. 

  1. 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 or emails you send to your landlord, and any 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) 
  • copies of your energy bills if you have had to spend more eg because of defects to your heating system. 
  1. 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.

Find out how much it will cost before arranging a surveyor to make sure you can afford it. In some situations you may be able to get legal aid to help cover the costs. 

  1. Keep records
    Make sure you keep records  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 the court that you have already sent an ‘early notification letter’ to your landlord setting out details of the disrepair) 
  • give your landlord 20 working days to put the problem right – unless the repair is urgent 
  • state that if your landlord doesn’t put the problem right within that time, you intend to take court action. 

This letter is called a ‘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. 

Disruption and poor work when renting from a private landlord

Disruption and poor work when renting from a private landlord

  • Your landlord should fix any damage caused by contractors they have arranged 
  • If you can’t use your whole home, your landlord should refund you some of the rent

Disruption during repairs and poor work 

If your landlord arranges repairs, they are responsible for the builders’ work. This page explains what you can do if the work isn’t done properly, or if it causes major disruption. 

As with all repairs, if you are an occupier with basic protection or an excluded occupier think carefully about how you raise the issue with your landlord because you can be evicted easily. Standard contract-holders should also give consideration to this, although they have more protection against retaliatory eviction. 

Poor work 

If the repairs are done badly there may be something that you can do about it, depending on how the repairs were arranged. 

If the environmental health department or the court ordered your landlord to do the work and it is not up to standard, you can go back to the council or the court and ask them to force your landlord to do the work properly. 

If your landlord has done the work voluntarily, it may be more difficult to get the work done to the standard you want. The landlord is usually only responsible for carrying out the repair, not for improving the property. Report the problems to your landlord again, then give them time to put things right before going on to take further action. 

If the repairs have damaged any of your personal belongings or made the accommodation dangerous, you may be able to take your landlord to court for compensation or to get an order that s/he carries out the work. You will probably need help from an adviser, as the process is complicated. If the accommodation is dangerous, contact your local council’s environmental health department immediately. 

Does the landlord have to redecorate? 

When repair work is carried out, any damage to internal decorations should be ‘made good’. This could include: 

  • repairing damaged plaster or wall coverings 
  • repainting if necessary 
  • replacing damaged items such as carpets. 

If the work is an improvement, your landlord doesn’t have to ‘make good’ afterwards. But they need to get your permission before they can carry out any improvement work, so you might want to insist on this before you agree to it. 

What if repairs are really disruptive? 

If repairs to your home are very disruptive (eg if some rooms are unusable) you may be entitled to claim a reduction on your rent. This is called a rent abatement. You can claim retrospectively, after the work has been done. 

The amount you get will depend on how much of the property you can use. For example, if you can only use half the property while the repairs are being carried out, you should get a 50% reduction of your rent. 

If your landlord refuses to reduce your rent, contact a local advice centre. Don’t just stop paying your rent or you could lose your home. It may be necessary to take your landlord to court to claim compensation. 

Can workmen use my electricity and gas? 

The landlord’s workers will probably have to use your supply of electricity, gas and other services while they are doing the work. If you think the usage is excessive, or if it continues for a long time, speak to your landlord and see if you can arrange for them to make a contribution towards your utility bills. 

Can I be forced to move out? 

If your landlord needs to carry out major repair work to the property, you may need to move out. In virtually all cases, you do not have to leave unless your landlord is able to evict you using the correct procedure. 

If you are happy to move out but want to move back in again once the work is completed, make sure you get this agreement in writing before you agree to go. 

Contact a local advice centre if you’ve been asked to move out and don’t want to go. An adviser can make sure that your landlord follows the correct legal procedures, and that any rights you have are protected. 

What if I need help dealing with the landlord? 

If a landlord threatens you they may be guilty of harassment, which is a serious offence. Other examples of harassment could include: 

  • sending builders round without notice 
  • removing or restricting access to services such as gas, electricity or water 
  • visiting your home regularly without warning, especially late at night 
  • entering your home without your permission 
  • beginning disruptive repair works and not finishing them 
  • stopping you from going into parts of your home (eg. the kitchen or bathroom). 

If something like this is happening, your local council may be able to help you. 

If your landlord starts action to evict you, get help. 

Furniture and equipment if you have a private landlord

Furniture and equipment if you have a private landlord

  • If you have a standard contract with a private landlord you should be given an inventory  
  • Check your contract and inventory carefully to see what it says about responsibilities for furniture and other equipment 

How can an inventory help? 

If you have a standard occupation contract with a private landlord or a supported standard contract, you should be given an inventory within 14 days of your contract starting. It is a good idea to have an inventory even if you have another kind of renting agreement.  

The inventory should list all the items of furniture and equipment provided by the landlord and the condition they were in when you moved in. You should be given the opportunity to comment on the inventory within 14 days of receiving it if you think it is incorrect. If you do make comments on the inventory the landlord should provide a new copy, including comments even if they do not agree with them. 

If the landlord doesn’t provide an inventory, check if the supplementary terms of your written contract say that you should be given one. It is a good idea to do one yourself and ask the landlord to sign it as a witness. If s/he refuses, ask someone else to do so, and send a copy to your landlord.  

When you move out, inspect the property with your landlord and check the condition of all the items on the inventory. If anything is missing, damaged, or broken (except through normal wear and tear), your landlord can keep all or part of your deposit, to cover the cost of repairing or replacing it. 

What if furniture or equipment gets damaged? 

If furniture is provided by the landlord, it is usually their responsibility to repair or replace furniture but this is not always the case. You should check with your landlord at the start of your contract who has the responsibility to repair or replace specific items. It could be that both you and your landlord have responsibilities to repair or replace furniture and other household items provided. For example, the landlord is probably not responsible for repairing or replacing items you are allowed to remove and don’t have to replace when you move out. Your written contract and inventory should make it clear but if it doesn’t, be sure to check with the landlord and get confirmation in writing.

Wear and tear 

If any items in your home become dangerous or unusable through everyday wear and tear, you should report the problem to your landlord straight away. They can then decide whether to repair or replace the item. 

Your landlord is not allowed to charge you for reasonable wear and tear and should not keep your deposit to pay for it.  

Are there any standards for furniture safety? 

Any furniture and equipment supplied by your landlord should be of reasonable quality and suitable for the purpose it’s provided for. This doesn’t mean that it needs to be brand new; but it should work and shouldn’t be dangerous. 

Any new or replacement upholstered furniture (sofas, armchairs, mattresses, head boards and cushions) provided by your landlord should be fire resistant. There should be a symbol on the label to show that it meets fire safety standards. If they do not conform to fire safety standards or seem in any way unsafe, ask your landlord to replace them. 

What about gas equipment? 

All gas appliances provided by your landlord, must be inspected every year by a registered gas engineer from the Gas Safe Register. Your landlord must keep a copy of the engineer’s report and must also give you a copy.  

Any repairs or maintenance carried out on gas appliances must be done by a Gas Safe registered engineer. You can check if a gas engineer is registered here. 

If you’re worried about gas safety in your home, report any problems to your landlord immediately and don’t use anything that you think is unsafe. If your landlord refuses to comply with gas safety standards, you should get in touch with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  

Our advice section about home safety contains further information such as  responsibilities for gas safety. 

Don’t take risks and never DIY with gas – it’s illegal to do so!  

What about electrics and electrical appliances? 

The electrics in your home should be safe, and tested every 5 years. The landlord must provide you with a copy of the electrical installation condition report (EICR) within 14 days of your occupation contract starting. If the landlord does not do this your home may be classed as not fit to live in. Our advice section about home safety contains further information responsibilities for electrical safety and electrical safety precautions 

If your landlord supplies electrical appliances such as a fridge or washing machine, they may be responsible for fixing them if they break down. However, much will depend on what was agreed between you at the outset of the contract, and how important the item was to you when you decided to agree to the contract. Check to see if your occupation contract says whether the landlord is responsible. You are responsible for maintaining any electrical goods that you own. 

Where can I get help? 

If you are having problems with furniture or equipment and aren’t sure of your rights, you can get help from one of our advisers. 

It’s important to consider how easily your landlord can evict you before you decide whether to take action. If you have a standard or secure occupation contract your landlord can’t evict you to avoid carrying out repairs or making your home fit to live in. This is called a ‘retaliatory eviction’ and you can find out more about your rights here 

If your home is very dangerous it is probably worth taking action even if you don’t have a secure or standard contract. Bear in mind your landlord can evict you very easily without providing a reason if you are an excluded occupier or an occupier with basic protection. You might be able to get help with rehousing if your home is not fit to live in. Get help if you’re not sure about your rights and rehousing options. 

Reporting repairs and allowing access if you have a private landlord

Reporting repairs and allowing access if you have a private 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 
  • You should be given an address that you can use to report repairs to 

If you rent from a private 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 repair problems to your landlord (or your landlord’s agent) as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the problem has got really bad – it might end up costing more to put right. 

It is probably a supplementary term of your occupation contract that you must report repairs, so if you don’t do it, your landlord may try to take money out of your deposit when you leave. 

You can report repairs 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 if I don’t know who the landlord is? 

It is a legal requirement that you are provided with an address for the landlord or their agent that you can send correspondence to. This includes for reporting repairs. If you don’t receive this your landlord may be liable to pay you compensation, and may find it more difficult to evict you. 

If you do not have the landlord’s or agents address, ask the person who collects your rent (eg. the letting agent) to provide the details. 

You can also find the name of the owner of your property by doing a Google search or by searching the Land Registry information here, but you will have to pay a small fee for this service. 

How quickly should repairs be done? 

This depends on the type of repairs needed. There are no fixed time limits, but they should be carried out within a reasonable time. 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. 

Do I have to let the landlord come in? 

You should allow your landlord access to the property so they can assess what repairs are needed and to carry out the work. They should give you reasonable notice of at least 24 hours before coming round, unless it’s an emergency. 

Bear in mind that landlords only have the right to come into the parts of your home that need repair work done. If they need to fix the kitchen sink, for example, it doesn’t mean that they can look round the rest of your home without your permission. If they’re using repairs as an excuse to snoop around or come round all the time, they may be guilty of harassment, which is a serious offence. 

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

What if they want to come in to do improvements? 

Your landlord doesn’t have the right to come into your home to carry out improvements, unless this is specifically stated in your occupation contract. They will have to get your permission before entering your home. If they want to make your home nicer, it may be in your best interests to agree. However, bear in mind that it may be more difficult to ensure that your home is redecorated afterwards and your landlord may want to increase your rent as well. 

Keep records 

If your landlord refuses to carry out repairs, you might need to take further action. It’s important to always keep records 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. 

Doing the repairs yourself when you have a private landlord

Doing the repairs yourself

  • If you cause damage in your home you are responsible for the costs of putting it right
  • If you withhold rent there is a risk your landlord might try to evict you
  • Your landlord can’t evict you to avoid doing repairs or making the property fit to live in  

If you have caused damage to the property, or if your landlord is refusing to do repairs which are their responsibility, then you might need to do the repairs yourself. 

In both situations you must follow the correct procedure and understand the risks involved. 

Responsibility for damage 

If you accidentally or deliberately damage your home in any way, you will be responsible for any costs involved in putting it right. It may be better to get the damage repaired yourself – otherwise you could lose your deposit when you leave. Get the landlord’s agreement before any work is started and always get receipts for any work you have done, and for any parts or materials you buy. 

What if my landlord is refusing or delaying carrying out repairs? 

If you have a private landlord and they are refusing to do repairs which are their responsibility, then you might decide to use your rent money to do the repairs yourself. 

You do not have a right to withhold your rent and should only use your rent money to pay for the repairs if you follow the correct procedure and understand the risks involved. 

Download our disrepair factsheet for further information. 

Agreeing with your landlord to do the work  yourself 

If your landlord has agreed that the repairs need doing but hasn’t done them yet, they may be happy for you to arrange for the work to be done. If your landlord is responsible for the repairs, ask them to confirm in writing that they will pay for everything before the work is started. They may want you to get estimates from more than one contractor before they will agree to this. 

Withholding rent 

You do not have the right to stop paying rent because your landlord won’t do repairs. Always think carefully before withholding rent.  

How easy would it be for the landlord to evict me if I withheld rent? 

This depends on the type of renting agreement you have. If you are a standard contract-holder your landlord can’t evict you to avoid carrying out work or repairs, but it might be easier to evict you if you have rent arrears.  

If you are an occupier with basic protection or an excluded occupier you can be usually be evicted without your landlord giving a reason and you are not protected from retaliatory eviction. If you have limited rights and the repairs are not essential, it may be better to live with things as they are. It is usually better to get the repairs done in another way.  

Whatever type of renting agreement you have, it’s essential to follow the correct procedure (see below). 

 Your landlord can take steps to evict you if you don’t pay the rent, even if you have a good reason why you are not paying. 

If you do decide to stop paying rent, you should keep the rent money aside in a separate bank account. This will ensure that you can pay off the rent arrears immediately if you have to. 

How to deduct repair costs from rent 

It is possible to do repairs without your landlord’s agreement and take the cost out of your rent but it is very risky. You must follow the correct procedure (see below) otherwise you risk being evicted for rent arrears. 

Be sure to keep copies of all letters and emails, and keep accurate records of what you have paid and when. 

 1. Write to your landlord letting them know what repairs are needed and allow time for them to be done. 

2. Write to your landlord telling them that you will arrange the work yourself unless they are done within a certain time. 

3. Get 3 quotes for the repair work from reliable contractors. 

4. Send the quotes to your landlord. 

5.If your landlord hasn’t responded, arrange for the work to be done by the contractor that gave the cheapest quote. 

6. Pay for the work yourself and send a copy of the receipt to your landlord, asking them to refund the money. 

7. If your landlord doesn’t pay you, write and confirm that you are going to deduct the money from your future rent.  

Will I be responsible for the quality of the work? 

Yes. Make sure the repairs are carried out properly – whether you do them yourself or get a professional in to do them. Never try to do them yourself if you’re not sure what you’re doing, or if gas or electricity is involved. If you carry out or arrange repairs that are done badly, you’ll be legally responsible for the consequences. 

Disrepair affecting health if you have a private landlord

Disrepair affecting health if you have a private landlord

  • Private landlords should ensure your home is not a risk to your health and safety
  • You might be able to take court action to get your landlord to remove the hazards in your home
  • If you have a standard occupation contract, your landlord can’t evict you for asking for work or repairs  

Health and safety standards for rented homes 

All rented homes must meet certain health and safety standards. Your home should also be fit to live in. If you have a community landlord, click here. 

The council can inspect your home and use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to assess if there are risks. They can take action against landlords if risks are identified. 

What is the HHSRS? 

The HHSRS assesses faults in your home and how they might affect your health and safety. The HHSRS considers how likely it is that a hazard would occur and how serious the outcome would be. If the assessment shows your home isn’t safe, the council can take action against your landlord. 

The HHSRS looks at lots of different things, including: 

It covers problems in communal areas and outside spaces as well as problems inside the house. 

If you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO), there are also limits on the number of people who can live in the property. The number of people allowed depends on the number and location of cooking, washing and toilet facilities. If you live in an HMO and think any of these facilities are not adequate, get help as soon as you can. Your home may be dangerous. 

What should I do first? 

Firstly, you should think about whether the landlord is likely to try to evict you. If you are a standard contract-holder your landlord can’t evict you to avoid carry out work or repairs. This is known as  ‘retaliatory eviction’. However, if you are an occupier with basic protection or an excluded occupier think carefully about how you raise the issue with your landlord because you can be evicted easily.  

Secondly, you should report any problems to your landlord in writing, and allow a reasonable time for them to be fixed. The time needed will depend on the urgency of the problem. If the landlord does nothing, you could send a second letter, warning that you will contact the environmental health department if the repairs are not done by a certain deadline. 

What can the council do if there are hazards in my home? 

If your landlord does not respond or deal with the problems, you can ask the council’s environmental health department to come out and inspect your home. 

The inspection should happen quickly if there’s a serious risk of harm to you or your family. You might have to wait longer for an inspection at busy times of the year or if the disrepair problems are less urgent. 

If the council decides that your home includes a serious hazard, they have to take action. 

They can do this by: 

  • issuing a hazard awareness notice – this warns the landlord that the council is aware of the problem 
  • giving your landlord an improvement notice, ordering the landlord to carry out certain repairs or improvements by a certain time 
  • ordering the closure of all or part of a building or restricting the number of people who live in the property 
  • taking emergency action, to do the repairs themselves and reclaiming the costs from the landlord 
  • making an order to demolish the property 
  • buying the property from the landlord under the compulsory purchase rules. 

If the council identifies minor repair issues in your house, they do not have to take action. However, they can decide to enforce the improvements, to avoid future problems. 

What if the environmental health team won’t help me? 

If the environmental health department doesn’t take action, you may be able to: 

Get help from Shelter Cymru if you are considering doing any of these things. 

What if I have to move out? 

If you have to move out of your home because it’s no longer safe for you to live there or is being demolished, you can make a homeless application to the council’s housing department. If you don’t have anywhere else to go, they may have a duty to rehouse you.