Reporting repairs and allowing access (social housing tenants)
Council and housing association tenants must let their landlords know about any repair work that needs doing and should allow reasonable access for work to be done.
Call the Gas emergency number 0800 111 999 immediately if there is a gas leak or you notice any signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.
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 often a condition of your tenancy agreement that you report repairs and you may have a tenants’ handbook which should explain who to contact and how to report problems. 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.
Use and adapt our sample letter Repairs 1.
What happens when I report the problem?
When you report the problem, your landlord should tell you whether the repair is their responsibility, or whether it’s up to you to carry out the work. If you are a council tenant, they should confirm whether or not the repair is covered by the right to repair scheme.
If it is their responsibility, they should also tell you how they are going to deal with it and how long it is likely to take. Your tenants’ handbook or tenancy agreement may tell you how long a particular type of repair should take to be fixed. If the repairs aren’t done within a reasonable time council and housing association tenants can make a complaint using the official complaints procedure.
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 or you could risk being evicted because of rent arrears. For more information about this procedure click here.
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.
- take photographs of the things that need repairing
- keep belongings that have been affected (such as clothes damaged by damp), or take photographs of them. Work out how much they are worth.
- get an expert (eg. an environmental health officer from the council) to inspect your home
- keep copies of any letters or emails you send to your landlord, and any response you have received from them
- always make a note of any conversations you have with your landlord. Include dates, and what was agreed
- keep copies of any doctor’s notes or hospital reports which show that your health has been affected by the problem
- keep 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)
- keep energy bills if you have had to spend more e.g. because of defects to your heating system.
Allowing your landlord access
You must allow your landlord reasonable access to the property 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. Council and housing association tenants’ handbook should explain your landlord’s procedure.