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22 Jan 2020
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08 Jan 2019
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What are your landlord’s responsibilities? They are responsible for most major repairs such as walls, the roof, windows and doors. Plumbed in bathroom and kitchen items are covered as is the heating and hot water. They are also responsible for the safety of gas & electrical appliances.
Damp is another issue – it is not always the landlord’s responsibility. But if it is due to rising damp; penetrating damp or construction damp, it generally is. Condensation dampness may not always be down to the landlord to sort out – but if it is posing a health risk or is a statutory nuisance, your local authority may be able to help. See this Citizens Advice article on Common Housing Repairs.
As soon as you know there is a problem and you’ve worked out that it is your Housing Association’s responsibility, contact your landlord. Preferably this should be done in writing – follow up any phone call with a note outlining what was said in the call, on both side (and always keep a copy!). See this Citizens Advice article on How to Report a Problem.
Gather evidence of the problem – such as photos, receipts if you’ve had to replace items, GP letters if your health is impacted.
Other than in an emergency, your landlord should give you at least 24 hours’ notice if they want to see any damage or do repairs.
If the problems are affecting your health or safety – eg a gas leak, broken step, mould or damp, mice or cockroaches you can report them to the Environmental Health department at your local council.
All repairs should be done in a “reasonable” time. So, what can you do if your Housing Association has taken note of your problem, for instance the heating or hot water not working (which it is their responsibility to repair) and nothing happens? You may have been waiting weeks for a fix or it has been repaired but shortly afterwards it breaks down again, and you wait weeks again.
Do NOT withhold your rent as this is illegal. If you get very behind with your rent, you could face eviction. However, if you already have rent arrears, some of these could be off-set if there are outstanding repairs needed to your home. This Citizens Article explains how to offset your rent arrears.
You CAN make a formal complaint to your landlord. There should be an easily accessible complaints policy. Make your complaint in writing, keep copies and keep any responses. You can, at the same time, complain to your local councillor, again in writing. You can write for free via Write to Them.
If your complaint isn’t resolved by the end of the complaints process (which may have several stages), you can complain to an Ombudsman.
For full information about complaining see the Citizens Advice article how to complain.
You can also visit/phone your local Citizens Advice who may have heard of other tenants who’ve also had problems. Although you will not be told who any other tenants are, CitA can gather evidence to present to, for instance, the local council for further action to be taken. You can retain your anonymity.