Leaks in your rented accommodation

As soon as you move into a rented home, both you and your landlord will sign a tenancy agreement that states that the house will be maintained to a safe living standard by both parties involved. Legally, it is important that both adhere to this agreement.

Leaks in your rented home can not only create an unpleasant living environment, but it can also put both yours and your family’s health at risk. Leaks can not only make your home cold and unhygienic, but it can also cause penetrating damp, which may cause a variety of health issues for you and your family.

Penetrating damp caused by leaks

Penetrating damp is not only inconvenient and unsightly, but it can seriously affect yours, and your family’s, health. Generally, penetrating damp is caused by a number of structural problems to the building. This can include:

  • Cracked walls
  • Leaking roof, guttering or external pipes
  • Cracked or broken drainage pipes
  • Rotten woodwork, for example; windows or doors.

In the cases above, where the penetrating damp in your home has been caused by structural issues, it is your landlord’s responsibility to make the repairs, as they are legally expected to look after the maintenance of the exterior and structure of your home, as well as amenities such as, baths, toilets and pipework.

How penetrating damp can affect your health

Living in a leaky, and therefore often damp, home can be damaging to both yours, and your family’s, health and wellbeing, and can seriously increase the risk of respiratory problems, allergies, respiratory infections, and asthma. Symptoms of exposure to penetrating damp can include:

  • Regular flu symptoms, such as excessive sneezing and a runny nose
  • Rashes on the skin
  • Painful coughs
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Asthma attacks.

Is your landlord not fixing leaks and structural issues?

At CEL Solicitors our friendly solicitors are dedicated to ensuring that you live in a safe and well-maintained home, so if your landlord isn’t dealing with structural issues to your house, or fixing leaks, you may be within your rights to claim compensation. Start your claim

To find out your rights as a tenant contact our expert team of solicitors today on 0808 273 0900 or 0203 925 4551; or email info@celsolicitors.co.uk.

Common questions about leaks in rented homes

How do you know if your water is leaking?

The most obvious sign of a water leak in the home is when you spot water coming from a place that it shouldn’t. This could be leaky pipework that you can see e.g. under the kitchen sink, or hidden pipework that is causing a water stain on a ceiling, wall, or flooring. If you can see the water, or signs of water, it’s usually fairly straightforward for a plumber to find the leak and make repairs.

If you find a leak in your rented property, you must report it to your landlord as soon as possible. If the leak is significant e.g. involves a large amount of water or is damaging your home, you should turn off the stopcock to cut the water supply into the property and stop any more damage being done. If the leak is minor e.g. a leaky tap or a few drops of water that can easily be contained, you should still inform your landlord ASAP, but it may not be necessary to turn off the water completely via the stopcock.

If you think that there may be a leak but you can’t find it, there is one way to check:

Make sure that no appliances that use water are running e.g. washing machine, toilets being flushed or cisterns refilling etc. Find the water meter and make a note of the reading. Return after 15 minutes and take another reading. If the meter is showing a different number now, you may have a leak somewhere in the home. It’s time to report this to your landlord so that the issue can be investigated.

Should your landlord pay for leaks in plumbing?

If you experience a leak in the plumbing inside your rented home, or outside and within the property boundary, it is your landlord’s responsibility to see to the repairs. You should inform your landlord as soon as the leak is discovered, as a leak left unchecked can cause significant damage to the structure of the home and even to the belongings inside it.

Your landlord will need to foot the bill for the repairs to the plumbing leaks, including any redecoration required if the leak caused damage. The only circumstances in which paying for the repairs would not be the responsibility of the landlord, is if the tenant caused the damage to the plumbing or pipework themselves. In this case, the tenant could potentially be responsible for covering the entire bill for the repair and/or restoration work.

How to fix a leaking tap

Most traditional leaking taps, especially if it starts as a drip, are caused by the wearing of the rubber washer inside the stem of the tap. These new rubber washers can usually be sourced for just a few pence from your local hardware store.

The video below shows how to replace a rubber washer on a standard tap:

Some modern or mixer taps are different, so if this is the type that you have a problem with, follow the below video tutorial for repairing leaking ceramic disc taps:

How to fix a radiator leak

A leaking radiator can quickly cause significant damage to carpets and floorboards, so it’s important to resolve the problem as swiftly as possible. If you are a tenant, it’s essential that you inform your landlord of the radiator leak as soon as you can, so that they can arrange for a certified plumber or heating engineer to fix the issue and stop any further damage being done to the area around the leak.

There are a few areas of a radiator that are more likely to leak than others, so they are the best place to start if you’re trying to find the cause of the problem. The video below gives advice on how to find and repair some of the most common types of radiator leak:

How long does a landlord have to fix a leaking roof / ceiling?

There is currently no set period under UK law in which a landlord has to make the leaking ceiling repairs that are needed to a property they let out. However, they must do so in a ‘reasonable’ amount of time. For a significantly leaking ceiling, where it’s possible that the water damage could cause some of the ceiling to collapse, or water could come into contact with electrical wiring, this should be treated as an urgent repair as it puts the health or safety of the tenant(s) at risk. For a ceiling leak that is minor, with no immediate risk to the tenants, the landlord may take slightly longer to fix the problem.

Should a landlord repair a leaking shower?

If you live in a rented property and notice that your shower is leaking, you should inform your landlord straight away. A leaking shower can cause considerable water damage to other parts of the property if not resolved quickly, so the sooner you report it, the better the outcome for everyone.

Your landlord is responsible for repairing a leaking shower, as part of their wider legal obligations to their tenants. They don’t have a specific time period in which they have to make the repairs, but as mentioned above, the earlier the problem is resolved, the less overall damage is done; therefore, most landlords will make shower leaks and other leaks inside the home a priority to fix.
If you have reported a leak to your landlord and feel that they are not taking the complaint seriously or have shown no signs of organising repairs, you may be eligible to make a claim for housing disrepair. If your claim is successful, the court will order the landlord to not only make the repairs as soon as possible, but it may also be possible for you to claim compensation on top for any suffering or loss you have experienced as a result of the leak. Contact CEL Solicitors today to discuss your options.