House in bad repair, with holes in roof and windows

Disrepair

Who is responsible and what can you do if your landlord won't take action?

Living in university accommodation? You can report problems on KLE and if you're not satisfied you can make a complaint. Information about the university's complaints process is here.

 

Who is Responsible for repairs?

 

Landlord's Responsibility

The landlord is responsible for certain repairs, including:

  • electrical wiring

  • gas pipes and boilers

  • heating and hot water

  • chimneys and ventilation

  • sinks, baths, toilets, pipes and drains

  • common areas including entrance halls and stairways

  • the structure and exterior of the building, including walls, stairs and bannisters, roof, external doors and windows

These areas are the legal responsibility of the landlord under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenants Act 1985 - your landlord cannot put this responsibility onto you, even if it's in the tenancy agreement.

The landlord must also ensure the house is fit to live in. Here are some examples of what could make your house unfit to live in:

  • gas safety risks

  • unsafe electrics

  • fire safety issues

  • damp or lack of heating

  • rats, mice or other pests

  • structural or internal disrepair

  • unsanitary toilets, bathrooms or kitchens

Landlords must follow gas safety regulations and furniture fire safety regulations. There are additional requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, which vary depending on the house. You can read more about their obligations on the Government's website here.

 

Tenant's Responsibility

You are responsible for keeping the property in good condition. You should leave it in the same condition as it was when you moved in, excepting fair wear and tear.

You should clean regularly, keep any garden and outside areas tidy (unless the tenancy agreement says otherwise), and do basic maintenance tasks such as changing lightbulbs. 

You should keep the property properly heated and ventilated to reduce the possibility of condensation and mould.

 

 

What can I do if the landlord won't make repairs?

If your house is in disrepair and it's the landlord's responsibility, you should inform the landlord as soon as possible. If the landlord isn't responding or is refusing to fix the problem, you can follow these steps. You can read more on Shelter's website.

 

1. Repeat your request

Get your repair requests in writing so you have proof of notifying the landlord of the need for repairs. Shelter has a useful page to help you make your requests.

 

2. Report your landlord to the council

If the landlord is not responding you have the option to report the landlord to the council for failing to carry out repairs within a reasonable period of time of you notifying them of the problem. The council could decide to do an inspection and can force the landlord to carry out repairs. If there are environmental health concerns you can also report those to the council's environmental health department.

In addition, if the landlord is accredited with the local councils' North Staffordshire Landlord Accreditation Scheme you can report them to the scheme. 

 

3. Take the landlord to court

You also have the option to go to court to force repairs. In addition, if there has been damage to your property because of the landlord's failure to take action, then you also have the option to pursue a compensation claim for damage. You are expected to make attempts to resolve matters without having to go to court, so make sure you have evidence of writing to the landlord.

You can read more about making a legal claim against your landlord on Shelter's website.

 

 

Should I stop paying rent?

If you don't pay the rent you would be in breach of contract and the landlord can take you to court to claim the rent due to the end of the fixed term, along with interest and any costs they incurred while pursuing you. If the landlord's claim is successful, you must pay or you can get a county court judgement (CCJ) against you, which can affect your future credit ratings. If you are an international student, you may have to declare a CCJ on any future visa applications to the UK.

We would advise you to avoid being taken to court and take steps to reach a settlement with the landlord. 

 

 

Letting agent complaints

If you need to make a complaint about a letting agency, you should first start with its own complaints procedure. If this does not work, you can go to whichever of the government run complaint schemes they belong to:

If a letting agency does not belong to one of these schemes they are breaking the law. You should report them to your local council, which can fine agencies up to £5,000 each if they don't join a scheme.