Making a Housing Disrepair Claim
A Landlord has an obligation to ensure that any property let by that landlord is kept in substantial repair and offers a safe environment for tenants
Repairs and maintenance
Save for where necessary repairs have been caused by negligence of the tenants, repairs are generally the responsibility of the landlord. The nature of this responsibility is set out in law
Under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, the landlord is responsible to:
- keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling, including drains, gutters and external pipes,
- to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling for the supply of water, gas, electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences) but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity,
- to keep in repair and proper working order the installation in the dwelling for space heating and heating water.
Any agreement that changes the above statements is automatically invalid and cannot be enforced by a Landlord
If you’ve signed a tenancy agreement that states, for example, you’re responsible for the maintenance of the roof and walls, you should seek legal help. The landlord cannot opt out of these responsibilities.
What are the landlord’s responsibilities regarding repairs in a rented property
When entering into a tenancy agreement, tenants are entitled to receive a property that is fit for human life. This means it must provide basic utilities like electricity, gas and water. It must provide functional sanitation facilities, like a toilet, a bathroom and a sink. It must be structurally sound and safe for occupation (we’ll review these further below). Landlords must maintain the property in good working order, as it was when the tenant moved in. If the property has not met the requirements during the letting stage, the owner is obliged to fix the issues with highest priority.
It’s fine to schedule non-essential repairs after the move in date. However, the property must be free of all hazards before anybody goes into occupation. Hazards like faulty electrical wiring, leaking gas pipes or unstable supports endanger human lives. As such, the landlord can commit a criminal offence by letting people live inside.
The landlord is only obliged to keep all systems and structures in good working order. They are not required to upgrade any part of the property, or to improve it in favour of their tenants. That is left to the discretion of the property owner. It can be negotiated in the tenancy agreement, but not demanded by law.
Landlords must repair and maintain basic utility systems
To be fit for living, a property must offer basic utilities. The property owner must provide in good working condition installations for the supply of:
Landlords must provide functional and safe fixed electrical installations.
Gas safety is at the highest priority in rented properties. All gas appliances, fittings, installations, pipes and flues must be kept in perfect working condition. This applies to communal and private areas, regardless of whether tenants have access.
All landlords are required to arrange an annual gas safety check by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
The landlord must provide facilities with running water.
Heating and hot water installations
The landlord must repair and keep in working condition the heating and hot water installations. Gas boilers and heaters must be annually checked by a certified Gas Safe engineer.
Fire and Smoke Alarms
Landlords must ensure there are fire, smoke and CO2 alarms installed and working on every level of their property. The batteries should be regularly checked and changed by tenants. If any alarm is still malfunctioning, the landlord should be notified and asked for repairs.
Landlords must repair and maintain the structure and exterior of the property
Roof and guttering
Property owners must ensure the roof of their rentals are in good working order. There should be no leaking areas, or damp dripping through the tiles.
Roof support beams and internal construction should be inspected for rot and treated accordingly. If there are loose tiles, those should be fixed, so as to prevent unfortunate incidents. Guttering should be regularly inspected and cleaned of leaves, sticks and other materials. A blocked gutter can spill all of its water onto the exterior walls and cause severe water damage. Rain gutters should be properly connected with no water dripping from the seams.
Damp and mould is a frequent problem in the UK and is hard to treat effectively and permanently.
Drains and exterior pipes
Out-flowing drains and pipes should be inspected and maintained as to prevent spillage of waste water on the property.
Exterior walls and foundations
Walls and foundations should be treated for cracks and deformation. Such problems should only grow worse in time, so the faster they are repaired, the better. The landlord is fully responsible for fixing problemswith the structure and load bearing elements of the property.
Windows and doors
Windows and doors, especially outer ones should close properly and seal tightly.
What are the side effects of Housing Disrepair?
- Damage can be caused to the tenants where a property is either in or allowed to fall into disrepair particularly due to damp and leaks which can damage the tenants property
- Higher heating costs from neglected windows
- Respiratory issues
- Illness and injury from poor maintenance including inadequate Gas Safety compliance and leaking carbon monoxide
Compensation and what you are entitled to?
Various factors are taken into account when pursuing a claim such as the amount of inconvenience suffered, whether you had to rehouse your personal possessions and move out during the repairs etc.
Other points taken into account includes:
- How long you have had to put up with the disrepair
- If you’ve had to be rehoused
- Any injury caused
- Damage to personal items (photographs are useful for this)
Factors to consider when assessing the likely value of an award include the amount of rent you pay and how much in percentage terms of your home has been affected. For instance if you had 5 rooms and one was affected then 20% of your rent would be a reasonable way of assessing your loss.
What to do next
We have a team of solicitors that handle disrepair claims. To obtain some advice and assistance please complete our enquiry form or simply ring.