Approaching your housing provider
Making your housing provider aware of the problem should always be your first port of call whether that is a private landlord, student housing provider or social housing provider, when you report a problem you should be given a time frame or date that the repair will fixed. If your housing provider needs more information this may take longer than usual but a normal time frame for an emergency repair should be within 24 hours and for a non-emergency repair should be around 14 days depending on the problem and the severity of it, any longer than that or if you’re not happy with the time frame you should approach them again.
Your landlord is responsible for most repairs including:
Such as damage to the roof, guttering, walls, windows, doors, locks, ceilings, flooring and foundations.
Your housing provider should:
- Tell you how long work should take
- Agree with you when and where work takes place
- Try to keep disruption to a minimum i.e., keeping noisy work between the hours of 8.00 am and 6.00 pm, not blocking any windows, doors or gates with scaffolding and not causing damage to the inside of the house or any furniture.
Unfortunately private landlords are not obliged to provide alternative accommodation when carrying out work unless it’s written into your tenancy though you can ask your landlord for a reasonable rental reduction if you can’t use some or all of your house during repairs or if the disrepair itself means that can’t use your house; if you do, record all written liaisons between you and your landlord and if you come to an agreement get it in writing.
**Do not withhold your rent, if you do there’s nothing to stop your landlord from evicting you.**
If workers or your landlord are using gas or electricity whilst repairing your property and you notice a substantial uplift in your bill you can ask that your landlord covers the difference, the best way to do this would be to get a couple of old bills from before the work started and a current bill and show them the difference. If they say no you can take them to court for compensation, but this can be time consuming and expensive so It’s worth comparing cost vs benefit.
This is damage to sinks, toilets, showers and baths as well as radiators, water tanks, cisterns, pipes, drains, sewers and valves.
A housing provider must by law provide you with running water and sanitation facilities. You must have a working toilet, at least one working sink and a shower or bath. Unfortunately, this law is fairly flimsy in regard to the condition of these items and as long as they technically work then the landlord isn’t breaking the law so for example if a shower doesn’t work and the landlord won’t fix it then that’s illegal but if it just trickles and runs cold after 10 seconds then the landlord can take their time repairing it.
The best thing you can do is bombard your landlord with repair requests, emails and phone calls. It may seem like too much but if you want something to get done then pester until you get there.
For example, gas pipes, boilers, gas cookers and gas fireplaces (your housing provider should send a gas engineer if there is a gas problem or be a gas engineer themselves otherwise them handling gas appliances or pipes is highly dangerous and illegal.) gas checks should be carried out every year by a gas safe registered engineer and the property should earn a gas safe certificate which you can request to see before or after moving in.
This is one of the only repairs where you shouldn’t contact the housing provider first. If you smell gas call the national grids emergency number on 0800 111 999 (This number is worth keeping in your phone for emergencies) they will send out an engineer that will find the leak and repair, it then contact your housing provider and make them aware of the situation.
Gas disrepairs are extremely dangerous and are not worth waiting around for. Your landlord should never make you feel like you did the wrong thing by not contacting them first.
Electrical repairs include wiring inside the walls, light fixtures, electric showers, electric boilers (which should be inspected every 5 years or less), plug sockets, light switches and any electricals that come with the property such as cookers and fridges, if the property comes furnished then they are responsible for all electricals that come with it, that is unless you broke it then they can say that you must replace it or pay for the repair.
You as a tenant are responsible for minor repairs such as changing a fuse or a lightbulb but do not try to repair electricals yourself.
You can make a complaint to your housing provider over the phone or make a formal complaint in writing or email detailing what needs repairing, what they need to do about it and how it is affecting you. Take scans or photos and keep them safe if you’re writing to them and keep a copy of the email if you plan to email them, if they have an online complaints form take a screenshot of it before you send it.
Hope this has been helpful, next time we’ll be talking about what to do if you need to take the next step and contact your local MP.