How to report repairs and make a complaint
Below you will find guidelines on how to address repair issues with your privately rented property.
What you can expect from your landlord
Your landlord should:
- Ensure that your home is safe and free from defects
- Keep all gas and electrical equipment maintained and in good working order by a properly qualified person (e.g. CORGI registered gas installer)
- Deal with repairs and maintenance within a reasonable period of time
- Common defects include missing fire precautions, poor insulation and heating, damp and mould and dangerous stairs (the Tenants Advice Booklet contains more detailed information on housing hazards.)
What you can expect from your local authority
If your landlord doesn’t deal with the problem your local authority will investigate. They will normally have to write to you and your landlord to arrange a visit. Your landlord or agent may be present during the visit.
Your local authority would only visit without telling the landlord in exceptional cases. This is because until they have told the landlord that they intend to make a visit they are legally unable to take any action. The main exception would be where you are living in a bed-sit or shared house because, in these cases, they can investigate poor management without letting the landlord know in advance.
During the visit they will assess your home to see if there are any hazards that could put your health at risk (known as ‘category 1 hazards).
If any category 1 hazards are found then your local authority is required by law to get your landlord to put them right. In most cases this means stating in writing what works are needed and giving a reasonable time for them to be done. If your landlord doesn’t do the works then he or she could be prosecuted and the local authority may do so at their own expense.
Occasionally, the only way to deal with a hazard will be to close the property with a ‘prohibition order’. You will, of course, be kept fully informed if this is likely to happen and they will give you as much help as they can to find alternative accommodation.
They will normally complete a report about the hazards and how they can be put right within 2 weeks of the visit. They will send you a copy of that report.
If they do not find any hazards that need to be removed then they will tell you and the landlord in writing within 2 weeks of the visit that they will not be taking any further action.
Checklist for when there is a defect
1. Write down exactly what the problem is and what you would like your landlord to do about it. If possible take photographs. Add your own comments.
2. If the problem could lead to an immediate injury then you should contact your local authority. Examples include faulty gas appliances, exposed electrical wires etc.
3. In all other cases, contact your landlord or agent to tell them what the problem is. The best way to do this is by telephone. Make a written note of your landlord or agent’s response and any agreements that you reach.
4. You should then write to or email your landlord or agent to confirm the problem and any agreement.
5. If your landlord or agent refuses to deal with your problem or doesn’t stick to the agreement then you should tell him or her that you intend to notify the Private Sector Housing Team at your local authority.
6. If the problem is dealt with then you should let the Private Sector Housing Team know (remembering to quote the reference number given to you at the top of your letter).
7. If the problem is not dealt with then you should inform the Private Sector Housing Team. They will need to see copies of any notes you have made or letters that you have sent to your landlord or agent so that they can be sure that it is reasonable for them to contact your landlord.
It may take time for your landlord to arrange a repair. For example sometimes a plumber or an electrician may be booked up on other jobs. Think of how long you would have to wait if you were arranging the work. It is likely to be the same for your landlord.
Ask your landlord to let you know what is happening. You may think that nothing is going on but your landlord may be very busy organising the work.
Try to be flexible about allowing access for estimates and quotes. Try to agree what times are acceptable to you and, if you are unable to be there, ask your landlord to give the tradesperson access. Your tenancy agreement should explain about your duty to allow access for repairs.
Harassment and Illegal Eviction
Some tenants are worried that it they ask their landlord to deal with a problem they may be asked to leave. Most landlords will not do this and would, in fact, prefer to know about the problem.
However, if your landlord does threaten to end your tenancy, or takes any other unwanted action as a result of you raising the problem then you should contact your local authority immediately.
They will have a housing advisor who can help and who can, if necessary, take legal action against your landlord to prevent it.