Repairs and bad conditions
What do I need to know?
If you are renting a property, your landlord will be responsible for most major repairs.
Tenants are usually only responsible for minor maintenance, and for putting right any damage they have caused.
Always report a repair problem to your landlord in writing or by email.
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Your landlord must usually carry out any repairs that are needed to:
- the structure and outside of the building – this includes walls, the roof, outside doors and windows
- sinks, baths, toilets and other fittings like pipes and drains
- heating and hot water installations
- all gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
- electrical wiring.
If damage has been caused by the disrepair, or is caused during any repair work, your landlord must also put that right.
They must also make sure that your home is free from any hazards that could affect the health and safety of anyone in your household.
As a tenant, you have to use your home in a responsible way. This includes;
- keeping it clean
- not damaging the property, and making sure your friends and visitors don’t either
- carrying out minor maintenance (for example, checking smoke alarm batteries)
- using the heating properly (for example, not blocking flues or ventilation).
You can read more about your responsibilities here.
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 best to report repairs by email or letter – make sure you put the date on it and keep a copy. This will help if there is any problem later.
If you report repairs in person, by phone or text always follow it up with a letter or email confirming the details.
Use these letters to help you work out what to say.
Urgent repairs should be done as soon as possible, but other repairs may take a bit longer. In some situations temporary repairs might be needed.
If your landlord agrees that repairs need to be done, but hasn’t done them they may be happy for you to arrange for the work to be done.
Ask your landlord 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.
Doing the repairs yourself is risky. You could end up out of pocket. Make sure you read our advice on tenants doing repairs first.
You do not have the right to stop paying your rent.
If you stop paying your rent you will get into arrears and your landlord might take steps to evict you – even if you have a good reason why you are not paying.
If your landlord refuses to carry out repairs, you might need to take further action. Always keep records of the repairs that are needed, and what you have done to get your landlord to carry them out.
If your landlord does not sort the repairs, you can contact your local council’s environmental health department. Find contact details for your local council here.
Use our sample letter to help you work out what to say to the council.
The council can then come out and look at your property to decide if there are any hazards.
They will use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) and can take action against your landlord if they find any hazards.
Find out more about the HHSRS here.