My Landlord Is Not Doing Repairs - What Do I Do?
- A landlord not doing repairs is a cause for worry
- What to do about housing disrepair
- Housing disrepair claims can help
A landlord not doing repairs is something out of every tenant’s worst nightmare. It can cause you inconvenience, unnecessary distress and can also have an effect on your health, depending on how bad the situation is. If you have reported repair work to your landlord and the problem hasn’t been rectified, or you’re being ignored, you may feel as though the situation is hopeless. Fortunately, there are steps you can take for your landlord not doing repairs.
This article will take a look at what your landlord is required to do, what your rights are and what action you can take for housing disrepair. This could include court action, but only as a last resort. This can be a costly way to make sure your problems are resolved; however, making a housing disrepair claim can take this hassle away from you altogether.
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Your landlord has an obligation to ensure your home is habitable, i.e., fit to live in. This includes making good any repairs. A landlord not doing repairs is shirking their responsibilities. As a tenant, you are responsible for any damage that you cause, except for wear and tear. Damage from fair wear and tear should also be replaced by your landlord, so it’s important that any repairs are reported as soon as possible.
It’s important to stress that these rights and responsibilities are outlined in a tenancy agreement. When signed by both parties, you’re agreeing to what you’re both responsible for. It’s a legally binding document, so a landlord not doing repairs is in breach of this if they are not upholding their end of the bargain.
Reporting a Landlord Not Doing Repairs
If there are any items in your home that require remedial work, you should keep records and evidence of these, just in case you decide to take any further action later on. Once reported, and nothing has been done, you have several options available to you for a landlord not doing repairs. You should first write to your landlord and remind them of their responsibility to conduct repairs. This letter should include dates and times that are convenient for you for the repair work to be done and what would be a desirable outcome. You should also take the time to provide a reasonable deadline by which the repairs should be completed. This should be realistic in the sense that you allow them enough time to respond and to implement any action needed.
What to Do After Chasing Your Landlord
If after this you still don’t hear anything, you can complain to your letting agent on the grounds of unreasonable delays for a landlord not doing repairs. They will respond with their view on the situation. If you’re unhappy with this, you can escalate it to their redress scheme, which aims to resolve disputes between letting agents and their customers. If successful, they will apologise and pay compensation for the inconvenience.
Following this, you are able to contact your local council’s private renting team. This can only be done if the letting agent and landlord are both delaying repairs unreasonably, do not respond or fail to fix the problem. After all that you’ve been through at this stage, it may seem hopeless, but most problems should be resolved at this point. Your landlord not doing repairs will seem like a distant memory.
Court Action for a Landlord Not Doing Repairs
You could potentially take your landlord to court for matters of housing disrepair. This is an expensive and time consuming option, so it should only be considered a last resort. Before reporting a landlord not doing repairs, you should first check that:
They are responsible for the repairs
You have reported the problem (at least once)
You have left enough time for the repairs to be completed
With the court option, it’s worth taking into account that you might be at risk of eviction if you’re a private rented tenant. This is another reason why court proceedings for a landlord not doing repairs are a last resort. It’s worth seeing if you’ve exhausted all other options beforehand.
You should make sure to gather as much evidence of your landlord not doing repairs as you can to help your case. This can consist of a copy of your tenancy agreement, correspondence between you and the landlord, photos of what needs repairing, as well as any damage, and copies of receipts if anything has had to be replaced as a result of ensuing damage. You should also make sure to contact a solicitor as they will be able to guide you through any legal advice if you choose court action for a landlord not doing repairs. Alternatively, you can fill in your details and make a housing disrepair claim, which will do all the hard work for you.
Before you fully commit to taking legal action, can you afford it? You may not be able to receive any financial help with legal costs, depending on the situation. Legal aid may be available if there is a serious risk to you or your family for health and safety reasons because of a landlord not doing repairs. If you don’t qualify, you may be able to go through small claims court, which only gives you a fixed fee.
Small Claims Court
Going down this avenue for your landlord not doing repairs to your property gives you a limit of £10,000 for compensation. If you require remedial works to take place, you can only go through small claims if the estimated damages are less than £1,000 and the repair work is also less than £1,000. If this is more, though, the court will allocate your case to fast track.
What Powers Does the Court Have for a Landlord Not Doing Repairs?
The court has the power to do one of the following:
Make you landlord perform any repair work by ordering a specific performance
Make your landlord perform any repair work by calling a mandatory injunction
Make a declaration that you can do the repairs yourself and deduct the cost from future rent
If the landlord still fails to perform remedial work after the order or injunction, they can be fined or imprisoned. It gives you the safety of knowing that the courts have your back for a landlord not doing repairs for unreasonable delays.
You may be tempted to stop paying your rent for a landlord not doing repairs as an incentive for them to take action. You should be careful when doing this as not paying rent can be grounds for eviction. If your situation is desperate, you can always withhold rent payments, but you should make sure that they are still available in a separate account in case your landlord starts possession proceedings. This way, you can pay any arrears off immediately and clear any debt that’s owed.
For clarity, you don’t actually have any right to withhold rent in the instance of a landlord not doing repairs. The landlord does, however, have the right to start possession proceedings if you fail to pay any rent. Even if you pay off arrears by withholding rent, they still have the power to evict you. This is why this isn’t a recommended course of action.
Paying for Housing Disrepair Works Yourself
An alternative option is to make sure you have reported any repair work to your landlord. After inactivity, you should report it again and inform them that you will do the repairs yourself if they do not organise this for you. After a period of time, a landlord not doing repairs gives you the opportunity to obtain at least three quotes for the cost of any repair work. These should be reported to your landlord to give them a final chance to make good any repairs before you do it yourself and deduct the cost of the work from future rent.
If, after two weeks, you still haven’t heard anything, choose the lowest costing contractor to rectify the mess of your landlord not doing repairs. Once the work is done, you should pay them and invoice the landlord directly. If the landlord doesn’t reimburse you for the trouble, you can deduct the cost from future rent, but make sure you send them a breakdown of what has been deducted, when the money will be taken and when you will finish paying them less rent.
These steps are a lot of effort, so submitting a housing disrepair claim may be more beneficial for you as it will take a lot of hassle off your plate and get you the compensation you deserve. Alternatively, see our article if you're still wanting more information on housing disrepairs.