Repairing Rights

If you rent a home you have a basic right to repairs and both you and your landlord have specific responsibilities.

Some tenants, such as those with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy have little security and you should be aware that you could be served with a notice to leave by your landlord if you undertake repairs without consent from the Landlord. 

Landlord's responsibilities

All landlords must comply with the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 Section 11. This means they must:

  • Keep the main structure and exterior of the property including drains, gutters and external pipes, in good repair;
  • Keep the installations for the supply of gas, water, electricity and sanitation in working order, as well as any heating;
  • All gas appliances must be checked and serviced at least once a year by a registered GAS SAFE fitter. You should be given a copy of the gas certificate. If you fit a gas fire as a tenant, you will be responsible for maintaining it;
  • Any furnishings provided by the landlord must meet the fire resistance regulations (Furnishings Regulations 1988);
  • A smoke alarm must be provided on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms with a usable fireplace or woodburner;
  • Repairs arising from fire, flood etc.

The landlord of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) has additional responsibilities, including fire safety and management of the property. Please see our Houses in Multiple Occupation pages for more information.

Tenant's responsibilities

  • Use the property in a tenant-like manner - this means that you must not damage or neglect the property or allow others to do damage to the premises; The Landlord has no responsibility to repair your damage for you.
  • If the damage has been caused by crime and you are the victim, get a crime number. Your Landlord may be able to make repairs under the appropriate insurance.
  • Do small jobs to maintain the property such as unblocking drains, sinks, cleaning windows and keeping the dwelling in a good decorative order;
  • Make good any disrepair to anything you are entitled to remove from the property.

How to report your disrepair problem

When you believe your landlord is responsible for a problem do not stop paying rent. Your obligation to pay rent as a tenant is independent of the landlord's responsibility to carry out repairs.You can use this letter template to report repair issues

If you have a problem:

  • Inform your landlord that there is a repair problem as soon as is practically possible. It is best to do this in writing, as this establishes the landlord's liability. Date and sign any paperwork and keep a copy of it.

It is important that you:

  • Give the landlord reasonable time in which to do the work - Respond to you at least within 14 days
  • Write again if the landlord fails to complete the repair as requested.

You could consider enclosing copies of estimates for the repair from reliable trade people but landlords will ultimately use their preferred contractors. Your tenancy agreement will allow your Landlord and his contractors to enter the premises to make repairs with due notice: usually 24hrs.

Arranging the repair yourself:

Check with your landlord if they are happy for you to do this. Some landlords provide contact details of local trade people that they expect you to use. You could then get the work done and deduct the cost from future rent or have the invoices sent to the landlord but not without their permission up front.

Remember if you do the work yourself you cannot charge labour costs and ALWAYS get agreements in writing and signed. Keep copies of any correspondence relating to the disrepair. Where necessary take photographs of any damage that occurs as a result of the defect.

You have a responsibility to inform any visitors to the property about any defect that could cause them injury.

Dealing with problems with your landlord

If the landlord fails to respond to your requests to undertake reasonable repairs for which they are responsible, you should contact Environmental Health who may decide to inspect the premises for 

You can choose to take the landlord to court but this option can be expensive if you are not entitled to Legal Aid. "No-win No-fee" agencies may act on your behalf if you feel you have a legal claim.

If you withhold rent to pay for repairs your landlord could try to evict you and take you to court to seek possession of the property.