A landlord is responsible for dealing with most disrepair in a property rented to a tenant.

Generally, your landlord is responsible for keeping in repair:

  • the structure and exterior of your home, for example, the walls, roof foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors
  • basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
  • water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters

These repair responsibilities can’t be overruled by anything stated in your tenancy agreement. This means that your landlord cannot avoid their obligations, or pass them on to you. Nor can they pass on the cost of any repair work to you that is their responsibility.

The law implies a condition into every tenancy agreement that the tenant must use their home in a ‘tenant-like’ way. This means:

  • doing minor repairs yourself, such as changing fuses and light bulbs
  • keeping your home reasonably clean
  • not causing any damage to the property and making sure your visitors don’t cause any damage
  • using any fixtures and fittings properly, for example, not blocking a toilet by flushing something unsuitable down it.

The tenancy agreement often specifies that the tenant will not be responsible for making good any deterioration caused by fair wear and tear, which means normal everyday use.

The tenant should inform the landlord about any situation which if left unchecked would cause damage to the property, for example, a leak in the roof. If you notice anything wrong with the property, such as a damp patch on the wall or a crack in the ceiling, tell the landlord/agent as soon as possible even if you are not bothered about it. If you wait until the problem gets really bad, it might end up costing more to put right and the landlord could try to take money out of your deposit when you leave.

It’s best to tell the landlord in writing about problems. If you do tell them in person or by phone, follow this up with a letter. Put the date on the letter and keep a copy of it, so if the landlord doesn’t carry out repairs at least you can show they knew about the problem.

There are no fixed time limits for doing repairs but they should be carried out within a reasonable time. You must allow your landlord access to the property  so they can assess how much work is needed and to carry out the repairs. They should give you reasonable notice (usually at least 24 hours) before coming round, unless it’s an emergency.

If the landlord is not carrying out necessary repairs and you are considering taking further action, try to collect all the evidence you can about the necessary repairs, and what you have done to get your landlord to carry them out.

You could:

  • Take photographs
  • Keep belongings that have been affected (eg, clothes damaged by dampness), or take photographs of them. Work out how much they are worth or keep receipts if you have had to replace them
  • Get an environmental health officer from the council to inspect your home
  • Keep copies of any letters you send to your landlord, and any written responses
  • Make a note of any conversations you have with your landlord – include dates, and keep a record of what was agreed
  • If your health has been affected, keep copies of any doctor’s notes or hospital reports .