Landlord not Doing Repairs

When renting a property, you and the landlord have responsibilities under the lease agreements that must be upheld. As a tenant, you must maintain the property and pay rent on time. Landlords must make sure that the rental units are liveable and well-maintained.

If your home needs repairs, the landlord might be hesitant to do them, which could leave you in an unsafe situation. Living in the house could prove stressful and frustrating, which is why every tenant needs to know their rights and what to do when landlords ignore repair requests.

Does My Landlord Have to Make Repairs?

First, you must determine whether your landlord is responsible for the repairs. Legally, landlords are supposed to confirm that their rental properties are safe, liveable and meet the minimum standards.

The tenant is assured of access to structurally sound properties equipped with critical utilities and free from hazards. However, not all repairs and maintenance issues fall under this duty. That is why you should understand the distinction between the repairs that the landlord should do and the repairs that are your responsibility.

Major Vs. Minor Repairs

Landlords should cover all the significant repairs that can significantly affect the safety and liveability of the rental unit. Landlords should prioritise and address these issues to maintain the property's living conditions. Minor repairs are different. They are often cosmetic or related to routine upkeep and are not always the landlord's responsibility.

Major Repairs

Major repairs involve significant issues that threaten the safety or liveability of the rental unit. They can include:

  • Roof leaks: The tenant deserves to live in a leak-proof property. Water shouldn't breach the roof, and the property should be watertight. Besides the discomfort of living in a leaking property, water can lead to water damage, mould growth, and structural damage, which can further impact the comfort and safety of the tenant.
  • Faulty wiring and electrical issues: Faulty wiring is a serious hazard that poses fire hazards and risks of electrical shocks, and it requires correction to prevent accidents.
  • Heating system failures: Heating system failures are also classified as major repairs, especially because they can affect the tenant's comfort and well-being during cold weather. The landlord is responsible for maintaining a functioning heating system inside the unit.
  • Structural damage: The landlord should also address damage to the rental property's foundation, walls, and other structural elements. If not addressed, these could threaten the building's safety and integrity.
  • Major plumbing problems: Burst pipes or broken sewer lines can cause flooding, water damage and unsanitary conditions that require immediate repair. These problems should be addressed promptly to avoid further damage and inconvenience to the tenant.

Minor Repairs

Any small, routine maintenance task tenants can reasonably handle is considered a minor repair. These include simple jobs that don't require special skills or tools, such as changing a light bulb, unclogging the sink, and replacing air filters.

If you have a lease agreement, it should detail which minor repairs the tenant is responsible for and which ones require the landlord's intervention. Some lease agreements expect tenants to handle a wider range of minor issues.

How to Request the Landlord for Repairs

Knowing how to ask the landlord for repairs is crucial. You should follow the right procedure to ensure you have recourse if the landlord doesn’t complete the repairs.

Tenants should document their interactions with landlords and collect evidence, such as photographs and videos, along the way. Here are a few steps for requesting your landlord to make repairs.

Send a written notice

All communication with the landlord should be written. Your written notice should detail the specific problems and the repairs needed. It should also include details like the nature of the repair, the location of the rental, and any potential health or safety impact the disrepair is causing you if not fixed promptly.

Provide a reasonable time frame

After the initial request, you should give the landlord reasonable time to respond and make the repairs. Heating and plumbing failures may require more urgent action to ensure the property remains liveable. However, issues like a leaking tap don't warrant as much urgency.

Send a second notice

If the landlord doesn't respond or take action within a reasonable time frame, you can send a second written notice reiterating the repair request and stating the potential consequences if the landlord doesn't comply. You can reference the initial request date to emphasise the urgency.

What To Do When the Landlord Doesn’t Do Repairs

If the landlord doesn’t do the repairs after being made aware of them, you have several options you can pursue:

Report to the authorities

The first step is to report to the necessary authorities. These include the local housing or building code enforcement tasked with enforcing these standards. Tenants can report violations by filing a complaint with the relevant department, which may inspect the property and issue citations or fines for non-compliance.

You can also report the issue to the health department. This is recommended for problems like pest infestations, lack of essential utilities or unsanitary and hazardous conditions like mould.

Legal Remedies

If all else fails, you can sue your landlord. If you decide to go down this road, you can seek disrepair compensation by filing a claim. Besides ensuring the landlord fixes the problem, a disrepair claim can also help you get some compensation for damages, medical bills, and even moving costs if you have to move. If your house has mould growing or any other issues, Housing Disrepair Barking can help you claim compensation.

You should speak to a disrepair claims solicitor to help guide you through the process, which can have several outcomes, including rent withholding, repair and deduct from rent and mediation services. The best thing about working with a housing disrepair claim expert is that you won't have to do the follow-up and filing yourself. The claim management service will do all the legwork for you. All you need to do is sit back and wait for compensation.

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