Being a tenant in a rented property should, in theory, be easy. You only have to worry about keeping the flat or home tidy and cosy so that you’ll always have a good night’s rest. The landlord should be able to maintain the upkeep of the property all by themself and is responsible for all the disrepair in the home that need to be fixed.
A common misconception among tenants, most likely the first-timers who have yet to read the tenancy agreement, is that landlords are responsible for everything that falls apart in their property. Tenants can also be held liable, especially if they caused the damage themselves. They should inform the landlord so that repairs actually take place.
It is important that landlords and tenants regularly communicate as the former will not be able to do maintenance checks every day. Tenants must promptly report any disrepair in their homes so it can be immediately addressed. In fact, some landlords may ask their renters for some help coordinating the repairs up until all the maintenance works are completed. They should cover the cost, while the tenant must allow the repairmen access to the flat or the area where the disrepair is.
Regular deterioration is not the tenants’ fault unless some damage was done to the already run-down area. For example, if your flat or house was not brand-new when you moved into it, there could have already been cracks in walls that were hidden under the wallpaper. The furniture could be old and not that sturdy anymore.
While it’s true that the landlord is required to fix damage caused by natural wear and tear, renters must also be charged for any damage they caused due to negligence and/or recklessness. A hole in the wall caused by rowdy teens and a dent on the kitchen counter from missing a hard piece of meat while pounding on it with a tenderizer are just some of the mishaps that the landlord should not be liable for.
Nevertheless, if there is disrepair in your home, you have the right to request your landlord to get everything fixed. In the UK, in Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985, it is stated that landlords should complete basic repairs unless the tenant moved in before 24 October 1961. Also, tenants need to be reminded that landlords are only obligated to fix repairs, not make improvements. By law, if they fail to make the repairs or if they ignore your requests, you can carry out the repairs yourself or find someone who can do it for you. The cost can then be deducted from your rental payment.
To start a request with your landlord, make sure you send your reports to them via email or SMS so it’s easier to track your correspondence with them. Your rent includes repair and maintenance; therefore, your landlord should not have any issue responding to your requests.
Allow your landlord enough time to obtain quotes from different firms and coordinate the repairs. A reasonable lead time for them to prepare is 20 days. This is enough time for the maintenance team to gather all the needed materials for the works. Damp, mould, leaking roof, cracks, and faulty wirings are the responsibilities of the landlord if these disrepairs were not accidentally caused by the renter. Except for emergency repairs that need to be addressed within 48 hours, you must give your landlord enough time to make it to your home.
If your landlord ignores your repair requests, send another email or SMS to them. Also, consider why your landlord disregarded your correspondence—maybe your requests were not as reasonable as the disrepair listed previously so they instead chose to just ignore your calls and messages.
After you have exhausted your options on getting them to respond to you, lodge a complaint with your council’s environmental health department. If your landlord completely refuses to assist you with the repairs, they could face consequences. The environmental health department will send an inspector to investigate and confirm your claims. Your landlord will be given a notice to improve the situation in your home. They can even be fined a hefty amount for not complying with the notice.
A caveat: Watch out for landlords who are stubborn and vindictive; some private landlords prefer to just evict their tenants then get new ones as this is much easier for them. Social and Housing tenants, however, have a few more legal protections.
If nothing else works, you can lodge a housing disrepair claim. You can be compensated for the financial loss and for damages to your personal belongings and your health that the disrepair in your home caused you. Exercise your tenant rights by getting in touch with the housing disrepair experts at disrepairclaim.co.uk.