/ Home & Energy

Are you struggling to get your landlord to fix your home?

home needing repairs

This time of year should be all about cosying up at home. But if you’ve got problems with your rented property, and your landlord or letting agent is refusing to make repairs, home could be the last place you want to be.

For over a month, I’ve been trying (and failing) to get the heating fixed at my new flat.

My landlord has been full of excuses. I’ve sent her a formal letter, and I’m looking into arranging a visit from an engineer myself.

Each night I’ve had to layer up for bed in my onesie, woolly hat, scarf and thermal socks, and I’ve had to buy an electric heater, which I’m worried about leaving on overnight as my power sockets are a bit dodgy, too.

I might dread going back to a fridge at night, but if I was elderly or frail, the cold could be dangerous. Browsing recent news tells countless stories of people putting up with conditions that are much, much worse – and more tenants are battling for action and compensation from negligent landlords.

When housing is scarce and we’re all paying more for rent, I don’t believe this is acceptable. For many, moving isn’t an affordable option and there’s a real worry that ‘complaining’ might lead to rent rises to cover costs of repairs, or worse, threats of eviction.

The search for affordable housing is hard enough, but ‘affordable’ shouldn’t mean substandard. Landlords need to be held accountable for providing basic needs.

Taking legal action

Are the problems you’re facing a threat to your safety or affecting your health? If you’ve repeatedly raised your concerns with your landlord to no avail and exhausted all other avenues, such as contacting Environmental Health, taking legal action could be an option.

Before considering this, read the terms of your tenancy agreement to check what your landlord, letting agent or housing authority is responsible for, and whether you’re entitled to claim for the work to be carried out.

Generally, tenants have a right to accommodation that’s kept in a reasonable state of repair. Your landlord has a responsibility to maintain your property, including the walls, roof, external doors and windows, as well as interior essentials such as sinks, toilets, drainage, electrical outlets and gas appliances.

Your type of tenancy can also affect your right to make claims. For example, if you live in a property and share space in the house with the landlord, you may have fewer entitlements than a tenant who rents their own private space.

You may be able to claim compensation if an issue has caused damage to your property, for example, a leak has ruined your furniture. If you haven’t been able to use part of your home due to disrepair, you could claim a reduction in rent, known as abatement.

You may also be entitled to compensation if you can prove that a problem has directly affected your health, although this process is complicated.

If you intend to seek legal support, it’s important to keep records of all formal correspondence with your landlord regarding the issue and collect as much evidence as possible, including photos.

Have you got ongoing issues your landlord isn’t resolving? Have you ever taken legal action against a landlord?

Comments
Laurence Shine says:
18 December 2017

What about Bad tenants who don’t Pay the Rent and when the Sheriffs Office Traces them at another rented Property which the Council gives them, some Tenants don’t answer or ignore letters and then they get away without paying the arrears.
This Data Protection act with regard to BAD Tenants has a lot to answer for.

Charlie says:
18 December 2017

On this occasion we are not talking about ‘Bad tenants’ (of which I m sure there are many) we are talking about Landlords who essentially retain all the power. Worrying about having a roof over your head and feeling insecure about your basic rights as a tenant are the issues under consideration here. In spite of supposedly being able to make my Landlord take note by using the clout of the Law I know I would be taking a huge risk that the jobs would remain undone, my rent would rise, I would be homeless.

Richa says:
22 June 2018

I paid all my rent on time, for 2 1/2 years. Got professionally cleaned at the end of tenancy no damages apart from very minor scuffs on walls due to fair wear and tear. During my tenancy we were without a non working washing machine for four months and broken down fence for almost a year. Just vacated the property and landlord wants to hold back our deposit… Who to approach. I am so upset for not feeling brave enough to claim for non functioning washing machine because of the fear of eviction.I understand that we can still claim but how??? Please guide

Reginald Skinner says:
18 December 2017

All this is fine but Landlords simply give you notice to quit if you become to much
of a problem. I have lots of things that the landlord has not done but i don’t want to move so i put up with it. what we really need is security of tenure for private tenants the same as social houring

It’s not just a tenants problem, landlords failure to carry out repairs also affects long suffering neighbours.

Long disputes between landlords and tenants about who is responsible for carrying out repairs to the properties exterior can simmer on for months without resolve. There are landlords who will introduce loopholes in tenancy agreements that absolve them from any responsibility. For example, a landlords latest trick is to advertise the property at an over inflated rental and when a prospective
tenant makes a reduced offer, a landlord will then agree to reduce the monthly rental but with a number of strings attached regarding maintenance.

For example, who is responsible for cleaning roof gutters which may already be blocked before a tenant signs the contract and moves in? The gutters may be connected to a neighbours property and if the downspout gets blocked on their side, water will pour over onto the neighbours property and seep into their foundations. I have just paid someone to clean both my gutters and also the rear ones next door to stop the water pouring over onto my conservatory. I have complained many times to have the fence replaced to both the tenants and the landlord but neither have responded. I have resorted to growing a hedge but I still get their overgrowth and weeds coming through.

It’s an ongoing problem for neighbours when neither tenant nor landlord are not interested in maintaining the exterior of a property and a neighbour is left with no alternative but to pay large sums in order to to protect their own property.

Landlords are legally required to carry out repairs to guttering, which according to some, does not include cleaning them, (another loophole), but ultimately failure to do so will eventually lead to repairs anyway. In the meantime long suffering neighbours are left to pick up the pieces.