Contacting your local MP
If your housing provider is playing hard ball, ignoring repairs or you can’t seem to get anything out of them then you can contact your local MP.
Whether you voted for them or not you live in their constituency, so your local MP works for you.
You can find your local MP and their contact details by visiting: members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP and entering your postcode.
You can write to them explaining the situation and ask for their help, from there they might write to you, call you or may visit you to get the information straight from the horse’s mouth and see the damage for themselves.
Your MP will likely get in touch with your housing provider themselves or get someone to do it on their behalf. This is usually enough to make your landlord take notice.
They can also contact a housing ombudsman, get your local council involved, speak about it at the house of commons (if they feel it’s an issue that affects many people in their constituency)
Housing Ombudsman service
It’s a weird mythical sounding name but a housing ombudsman is just somebody who works for the government and deals with housing disputes, this can be in regards to disrepair, harassment or discrimination if you’ve contacted your landlord and can’t get anywhere with them and you’ve contacted your MP and they can’t get anywhere then your MP might decide to contact The housing ombudsman service (you might have to ask them to do it) as they hold some powers that MPs don’t and it is their entire job to help resolve issues between tenants and landlords whereas MPs have several jobs.
Housing ombudsmen will look at evidence from both parties and advise a solution, this might be that the issue needs to be dropped or that the disrepair needs to be fixed or that you need to reach a middle ground for example if both you and the landlord put money towards the cost of repairs.
If a housing ombudsman orders your landlord to fix something and they don’t, if or when you decide to take it further it would look really bad for them that they refused an order from a government official and work a great deal in your favour.
Environmental health is a sector of your local council that ensures you are living in a safe property.
You can contact them over the phone via your local council, you then tell them what is going on in your property and what your landlord is doing or not doing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re renting privately from a housing association or from a student letting agency everybody must follow the rules of environmental health if they’re renting a property out.
Environmental health will listen to your complaint and send an inspector out (this might take a few weeks) the inspector will mostly be looking for
- Category 1 hazards: These are hazards that can cause death or pose serious danger to your health
- Water supply issues
- Mould or damp
- Excess cold or heat
- Dangerous gases
- Faulty locks, doors or windows
- Pest issues
- Risk of infection
- Risk of accidents
Your landlord might be informed of the inspection and can choose to be there, but they can’t enter the property without your permission.
The environmental health inspector will only look around, they won’t lift floorboards or try to find the cause of something so if there’s damp, they’ll put it in their report but won’t find out where it is coming from.
The environmental health inspector will then make a report and may issue the landlord with a notice, this notice could be an improvement notice these identify the problem, tell the landlord how to fix them and give start and finish dates for work to take place, these are usually reserved for category 1 hazards.
The inspector could give an emergency remedial action notice which means the council can carry out the work needed themselves and charge the landlord for it, they do this if someone in your home can suffer serious harm.
The landlord can be given a prohibition order which would stop people from being able to live in all or part of the building or restrict the number of people that can live there.
An emergency measures order would mean that the threat of danger would have to be immediately removed or the tenant would have to be removed until the building was made safe.
The most severe order is a demolition order which is exactly as it sounds; the tenant would move out and the building would be demolished. This is highly unlikely to ever happen to a building somebody rented as it would be very unlikely that somebody would move into a building with that much wrong with it.
Hope you’re finding this series helpful, we’ll round up next week with how to approach a solicitor if you still need some help getting things sorted.