Landlords are obliged by law to carry out repairs for key infrastructure to ensure tenants don’t live in properties with damp and mould, vermin infestations or other housing disrepair.
But beware, although lots of landlords take good care of their properties and of their tenants, many do not. The stories of housing disrepair vary wildly case to case; from landlords renting flats with illegal electrics to families having to live in mould-ridden homes.
Check your tenancy agreement
If you have a found a repair issue in your property, whether you’re a social and private tenant, check your tenancy agreement first.
There should always be a section which includes a clause committing the landlord to keep the property in ‘good condition’ or ‘fit to live in’. In most cases, your agreement will also list what you are responsible for repairing, and what your landlord is responsible for repairing. Check this, if you can, before signing a tenancy agreement. If you have questions, ask them and where necessary, make amends to the agreement to ensure clarity if housing disrepair issues come up.
How can landlords refuse their responsibility to make repairs?
This all comes down to tenant and landlord obligations. The Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association tried to declare that responsibility for glass in external windows was the tenant’s responsibility. However, in Ball v Plumber (1879) external windows were considered part and parcel of ‘structure and exterior’, meaning this would be the landlord’s obligations for repair.
The bhpa also attempted to exclude their obligations for conservatories. If the conservatory had been installed by the tenants then of course the liability would be the tenants’. However, if either bhpa or a previous tenant had constructed the conservatory, then it is part of the property, and so it would be the landlord’s obligation to keep it in good condition. Smyth v Farnworth (2009) saw a tenant awarded with £5000 due to water leaking with their conservatory!
What should I do if my landlord is refusing to accept responsibility for the repairs?
If you’ve checked your tenancy agreement and the repair falls under your landlords’ obligations, then you have nothing to worry about. If you’re still unsure who is responsible, check out our handy infographic below.
Once you’re happy it’s your landlord’s responsibility, do the following:
- Report the repair request to your landlord and state why
- If you have already reported the repair request and there has been a considerable amount of time since, then you could be eligible to make a housing disrepair claim
If you’re not sure on pursuing a legal claim, read our case studies and see how the amazing results our clients received; both in terms of repairs made and compensation.