We know trying to get your landlord to repair your house can be difficult at times. So, we have set out below a simple guide to your rights as a tenant and how the law can help you get the repairs done. This should help you understand what your landlord should be doing. And if your landlord isn’t doing enough, we can clarify the steps you should be taking to sort it out.
What Do We Mean by Housing Disrepair?
When you rent a home to live in, you become a tenant. The law provides tenants with certain rights as to what they can expect from their landlord. This means your landlord has certain responsibilities to meet.
Housing disrepair is when certain repairs, covered by the law, are neglected by the landlord after they have been given enough notice to do so.
Chris Rudd Solicitors can advise you whether you might be able to make a valid claim. If you do, you will be able to get your home repaired and you should get compensation too.
Our clients typically get compensation of between £1000 and £3000. But, each case will be different, and will depend on your particular circumstances.
As a tenant, you are entitled to a certain standard of housing. Keep reading to find out exactly what housing disrepair covers. Or, if you are more legally minded, you should start by reading through your lease. Your lease sets out what you and your landlord have agreed between you. Also, you might want to have a look at section 11 of The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This sets out the repairs which most tenants can expect from a landlord, regardless of what their lease says.
The Homes Act & Fitness for Human Habitation
As a landlord or a tenant, you will have probably heard something about the Fitness for Human Habitation Act, or Homes Act. This act was passed to bring previous rules, some of which relate to housing disrepair claim, up to date.
As of 20th March 2020, it is in full effect. In short, the Homes Act updates and improves standards for property. And, it helps to ensure both social and private landlords adhere to those standards.
Most notably, the Homes Act highlights 29 hazards that landlords are responsible for. This list means that tenants will be able to claim for more issues than they will have been previously.
If you have a problem that isn’t described below, you might still be able to make a claim under the Homes Act.
What Problems Are Covered By Housing Disrepair?
Housing disrepair encompasses a variety of issues. The most common housing disrepair issues we can get put right are set out below:
Problems with The Structure Of The Building
Your landlord is responsible for maintaining a structurally sound property. Therefore, they are responsible for keeping the walls, the roof, the floors, and the doors and windows in repair. This means that they are responsible for taking care of the following:
- Leaking roof
- Leaking or ill-fitting windows
- Missing or defective doors
- Leaking or blocked gutters, downspouts, or drains.
- Subsidence of the building and walls with structural cracks, or defective brickwork or render
- Rotten or unsafe floor or ceiling, and damp floors or carpets
- Unsafe stairs or stair rails
If your landlord has not taken care of these issues after due notice, you may have a claim against them.
As a tenant, you are entitled to a certain standard of housing.
As with the structure of your property, plumbing should also be up to scratch. Plumbing problems such as the examples here should be resolved by your landlord.
- Leaking baths, sinks, or pipes
- Toilets or taps that don’t work
- Broken sinks or baths
- Showers that don’t work
Problems with Utilities
The term ‘utilities’ means your electrical supply, your water supply, and your gas supply. We can get your landlord to repair any installations inside your home. Your utilities supplier does have certain duties to maintain the supply, but for gas and electric this ends at the meter. So, in respect to electrics, the landlord will be responsible for the installations beyond the meter such as wiring, conduits, switches, and circuit boards.
In respect of the gas supply, a gas leak is an emergency issue and should be reported to the National Gas emergency service immediately. You should take appropriate steps to protect your home and family without delay. However, you should also report the issue to your gas supplier and your landlord. Your landlord will be responsible for repairing installations beyond the meter such as boilers, gas fires connected to the mains supply and gas pipes.
In the case of water, the landlord will usually be responsible for repairing the water supply pipes and drains which are connected to your house once they enter onto your land.
Heating and Hot Water
Another common problem is with the heating system and the hot water supply. A faulty boiler, defective radiators, gas fires that don’t work, and a failure in the supply of hot water all fall under housing disrepair.
If your landlord is not keeping up with these responsibilities, there may be a basis for a claim.
Damp Problems in Rented Properties
Damp is a common problem in British houses. There are a few different types of damp that can be problematic. In certain circumstances you can expect your landlord to deal with the types of damp set out below:
Rising damp is caused when water soaks up into the walls from wet ground below.
Penetrating damp is caused when water has soaked through the walls or other fabric of the building. This could be due to pipes or gutters leaking down the walls. Or, poorly installed cavity wall insulation can get saturated and soak through interior walls.
Damp due to leaks or flooding can be caused by plumbing leaks, leaks from the roof, or window leaks. Also, it can be caused by back flooding from blocked drains.
Condensation damp is caused when moisture in the air condenses on cool surfaces such as cold external walls or on windows.
If you do have damp you should first make sure that you take all the measures you can to reduce the problem yourself. This might include ensuring that all vents are unobstructed, that extractor fans are used, and that windows are opened regularly to vent the property, particularly if drying clothes inside the house.
Does any of this sound familiar? If so, the chances are that you have a basis for a housing disrepair claim against your landlord.
Repairs Which Are NOT Covered
Certain types of repair are not covered by the general law. Some issues which are not usually covered are:
- Any improvements you might wish for, such as replacement of windows to upgrade to double glazing. Or newer more modern doors. Essentially, if the old stuff still works the Landlord does not have to upgrade or modernise it
- Kitchen units, and bathroom units are not covered even if they are worn out or broken. It is up to the Landlord if they wish to help
- Damp caused by condensation due to the tenants’ own activities such as drying clothes on radiators, is not covered
- Worn out carpets or laminate floors, are not covered
However, you might be able to claim for some of these items if they are damaged due to a failure by the Landlord to repair something which IS covered. Items such as any carpets, flooring, or kitchen units damaged by flooding caused by a leaking roof or leaky bath you had warned the Landlord about.
Certain types of repair are not covered by the general law. But, it’s always better to be sure if you can or can’t do something about it.
If you do require repairs to your rented property, please take a look at the How to Take Action About Housing Disrepair section to take you through the housing disrepair protocol.
How to Take Action About Housing Disrepair
By now you hopefully have a better understanding of what housing disrepair is and what your rights are.
So, if you believe you have housing disrepair, what should you do?
Firstly, you should contact your Landlord to notify them about the problem. It is best to do this in writing, such as by email, and to keep a copy. You can’t make a claim unless you have put your landlord on notice, and you may have to prove that notice was given. A written, dated complaint which you can keep for later, is always best.
Next, give your Landlord a reasonable amount of time to carry out the repairs. What is reasonable will vary according to the type of repairs needed. For instance, failed heating in Winter or a failure in your clean water supply are very urgent problems which should be put right within a day or two. Other problems, which are less urgent, such as damp or problems opening windows, should still be done in less than a month.
If the repairs are not done in time please get in touch with Chris Rudd Solicitors for 15 minutes free, no obligation advice.
We can talk you through exactly what kind of housing disrepair claim you could make.
We will then instigate a claim under the Housing Disrepair Protocol by sending a letter of claim.
From there, we can handle all the negotiations with your landlord. And we may appoint a surveyor to prepare a detailed report about all the items of disrepair in your home.
We will then settle your claim and get the repairs done. Or, we will advise you about whether you should bring a court case against your Landlord if they refuse to carry out the repairs.
Don’t forget – not only will we get your repairs done, Chris Rudd Solicitors will also get you the compensation you deserve.
How Chris Rudd Solicitors Can Help
We know that making a claim against your landlord can seem daunting but please don’t worry as we know what we’re doing! We can offer you:
- A specialist team of experienced advisors
- Free advice with no obligation
- No win no fee service
- We will get you compensation
- We will arrange and cover the initial cost of expert help from surveyors
If you do believe you have the basis of a claim for housing disrepair, please get in touch today so we can help you get the compensation you are owed. Feel free to call us on 01925 351 350.