Broken boilers, problems with heating and hot water, a broken window in a communal hallway – disrepair is a common issue in the private rented sector. At Shelter, we believe that a safe, comfortable home is a human right. If something is in a state of disrepair in your home, it can really affect your day-to-day wellbeing; especially if you are working from home, as many of us are. So, what should you do if you are struggling with disrepair in your rented home?
Jayne Atherton, a part of Shelter’s online advice team, explained: “As a first step, have a look at Shelter’s online advice pages for information on your rights, and to access helpful resources and tools."
When it comes to disrepair, many people aren’t sure of what their landlord is responsible for.
“Your landlord is responsible for most repairs in your home. This includes the main structure of your home (the walls, windows, roof) as well as gas, water, electricity and sanitation. Things like plug sockets, and also heating.”
Not everything is the landlord’s responsibility, however. As a tenant, you have to keep your home reasonably clean, do safety checks on appliances like your kettle or hairdryer, and to keep any outdoor space like a garden tidy.
Jayne continued: “Do check your tenancy agreement before contacting your landlord to see what may not be included. If the tenancy agreement covers the type of disrepair you’re struggling with, it’s your responsibility to inform your landlord of any repairs needed.”
There is a handy template letter on Shelter’s online advice pages that can be downloaded for when you need to report a repair. Once notified, your landlord must carry out repairs within a reasonable period of time. What is considered reasonable depends on how serious the problem is.
“It’s good to inform your landlord as soon as possible, even for minor things like a dripping tap, in order to stop things from getting worse. We also recommend you keep a record of when you notified them.”
During the lockdowns over the past couple of years of the pandemic, we saw a lot of questions around allowing entry and access to your home to fix disrepair.
“You do have to allow access to your home at reasonable times if the landlord - or someone acting for them - wants to inspect the condition of the property, but you are entitled to least 24 hours’ written notice, and you can suggest another time if it’s not convenient”, says Jayne.
For more information on how to deal with housing issues and your rights, visit Shelter’s online advice pages.