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Disrepair - private tenants

We aim to improve standards of safety and repair in privately rented property and in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). If you have a disrepair you should in the first instance write to you landlord requesting that the repair is undertaken.

Reporting problems to your landlord

In emergencies (e.g. a gas leak should always be reported on the TRANSCO local gas emergency line 0800 111 999) you may have to call the supplier or emergency services but tell the landlord too.

If repairs are needed in the place where you are living there are a number of steps you can take to ensure that your landlord carries them out.

If you don't know who your landlord is notify the agent. You have a legal right to know the landlord's name and address. If you don't know check all your documents about your tenancy or get advice from your local service centre.

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  1. Always report the problem to your landlord no matter how small and always give the landlord the opportunity to fix repairs
  2. Follow it up in writing, with a date and keep a copy. It may be important that you can prove your landlord was aware of the problem

When you report your problem your landlord should tell you who is responsible for the repair, what will be done and how long it will take.

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  • Gather evidence
  • Take and date photographs
  • Cost belongings that have been damaged
  • Keep copies and notes of any letters or emails about repairs
  • If someone is injured or is made ill, go to your doctor or hospital; keep a record of treatment, and how long symptoms last
  • Keep receipts of any money you need to spend
  • Report threat and harassment


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You may be able to get compensation if the problems have affected your enjoyment of the property. However, the council does not act on your behalf to obtain compensation. You will have to seek your own legal advice.

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There may be a risk with private tenants that the landlord will try to evict you or make life difficult instead of doing repairs. However in most cases a landlord simply cannot throw you out immediately. They will have to give you a period of notice (usually two months but this is depending on you type of tenancy agreement you have (you can check this with an advisor at your local service centre).

If you have received an eviction notice or are being illegally evicted you should speak to the council's Housing Options team or seek specialist legal advice.

Illegal eviction or harassment of tenants are criminal offences and if you feel you are a victim to either of these you should contact the council's Housing Options team or seek specialist legal advice.

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Our Private Sector Housing officers will provide advice, talk with the landlord, and if necessary take enforcement action.

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No, you do not have the right to stop paying rent even if there is disrepair, the landlord may try to evict you for rent arrears.

However if you decide to stop paying rent, then you should put the amount you would have paid in rent, into a separate bank account. This is so you can show in any subsequent legal proceedings your willingness to pay rent and also so you can pay the rent to the landlord when repairs are complete. In any case before withholding rent, always obtain specialist legal advice.

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Only if you are responsible for the damage and if you are qualified to do so. You should always seek the landlord's permission, but if they are ignoring you contact the council's Private Sector Housing Team first, they have enforcement powers to get landlords to make certain repairs.

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Landlords' responsibilities

Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (which replaced S.32 of the Housing Act 1961) is a statutory implied term that the landlord shall keep in repair:

  • The structure and exterior of the dwelling.
  • The installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation.
  • The installations for the supply of space heating and water heating.
  • The communal areas and installations associated with the dwelling (S.11 as amended by S.116 of the Housing Act 1988).

The Act also provides that the standard of repair necessary will vary depending on the age, character, and prospective life of the property and its location, so a landlord need not maintain a tatty run-down property in an inner city area to the same high standards expected in an expensive central London apartment.

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The landlord will not be liable for works or repairs caused by the tenant’s breach of obligations under the tenancy.

Action can be taken by the tenant in the County Court for breaches of the landlord’s repairing obligation. This is a civil action, and tenants can claim compensation for damage and inconvenience resulting from the breach.

The landlord should receive notice of this in advance.

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The landlord is not impliedly liable for dangerous defects; however Section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 places a duty of care on the landlord in relation to any person who might be affected by a defect, ‘to take such care as is reasonable in all the circumstances to see that they are reasonably safe from personal injury and from damage to their property caused by a relevant defect’.

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Landlords have a legal duty to ensure that all gas appliances/fittings and flues are maintained in safe working order and annual safety checks are carried out by a fully qualified and competent Gas Safe registered engineer.

Tenants should ask for Gas Safe identification. This credit card sized ID should show their photograph, name, card expiry date and a Gas Safe registration number and logo. The key information should also be in Braille.

Further information on the Gas Safe Register and gas safety information for landlords and tenants visit the Gas Safe website.

Any gas appliances owned or entitled to be taken from the property by the tenant are the responsibility of the tenant.

For further information on landlord's legal responsibilities in relation to gas safety or if you are a tenant and your landlord has failed to provide you with a gas safety certificate contact the Health and Safety Executive.

  • If you suspect a gas leak, switch off the gas at the meter and contact Transco on 0800 111 999
  • Do not use electrical appliances or switches
  • Turn off all sources of ignition including the pilot light on your cooker or boiler
  • Do not use any naked flames
  • Do not smoke
  • Open doors and windows to provide ventilation

Transco have advised that it is not safe to use a mobile phone inside the house when you smell gas. Please keep people away from the affected area and if you believe that there is danger to the public, dial 999. Please make sure you know where the lever is to cut off the gas supply.

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You should have a clear understanding of your responsibilities in relation to electrical installations and appliances and the duties and responsibilities placed on a landlord by the following Regulations:

  • Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
  • Consumer Protection Act 1987.
  • Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.
  • Building Regulations 2000.
  • The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006.
  • The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007.

This legislation places obligations on landlords to ensure that the fixed installation and all electrical appliances supplied by the landlord are safe.

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The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) rationalises existing fire safety legislation in relation to commercial premises into one piece of legislation. The new order also covers domestic properties where there are common parts shared between different dwellings; for example, common hallways and stairwells of blocks of self-contained flats.

The FSO places duties on the person having control of the property (the landlord) to have fire precautions in place, to make sure the property is safe and to carry out fire risk assessments. Where the property is licensed the fire risk assessment needs to be recorded in writing.

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From 6 April 2007 a landlord should safeguard a deposit with a UK government-backed tenancy deposit scheme.  Landlords can choose which scheme they wish to use and must safeguard each deposit and inform the tenant which scheme has been used within 30 days of receiving the deposit. The following web sites provide further information:

Shelter - see if your tenancy deposit is protected

and

GovUk - get help and advice about tenancy deposit protection




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Last updated: 24 January 2017 | Last reviewed: 24 January 2017