Repairs

 

What to do if something is damaged or broken

When you are living in a property you have a responsibility to act in a ‘tenant-like manner’. This means that you have a duty to take care of the property and keep things well maintained and to carry out small everyday tasks such as replacing a light-bulb. You also have a duty to report any damages or breakages, and identify if items are in need of more serious repair. When it comes to actually getting the repairs done, you should bear in mind what is a reasonable amount of time for the landlord to get the work done and how urgent the repair is.

It is never advisable to with-hold rent as this may lead to legal grounds for eviction. We advise that you always seek advice on the best course of action.

 

It is your responsibility as a tenant to look after the general everyday maintenance of the property and the appliances.

Lights not working: first check whether it is just one light or the lights in the whole property. If it is just one light, or the lights in one room only that are not working it is likely to either be a light bulb that needs replacing or a tripped fuse for that area of the house. As a tenant you are responsible for purchasing new light bulbs. It is a good idea to have a spare available for those last minute emergencies. If you do not know what type of bulb you need, most DIY stores will be able to help you identify the right one if you take the old bulb with you. If the fuse has tripped you should be able to simply flip the switch in the fuse box to regain the power for that room/area of the house.

Vacuum Cleaners: all vacuum cleaners will need to be emptied regularly to ensure they continue to work efficiently. Depending on the model of vacuum cleaner you may have to buy replacement bags for collecting the rubbish most supermarkets will stock the well known brand bags. For less well known brands you may have to purchase these directly from a brand website. Some vacuum cleaners are bag-less and can be easily emptied into the bin. You should be provided with any instruction manuals and should ensure you maintain the upkeep of any appliances.

Blocked toilet: You should take initial action to try to remedy the blockage. Try using a toilet plunger. If this is unsuccessful you should contact the landlord or agency to report the blockage and request a plumber to visit the property.

Blocked drains: You can buy reasonably inexpensive products in most supermarkets that are designed to help with blocked drains. If this is unsuccessful then report it to the landlord or agency for further investigation.

Condensation/Mould: As a tenant you should take steps to reduce any opportunity for mould to grow. You should try to keep the property well-ventilated and take particular care if drying clothes inside. You should clean away any surface mould as and when it occurs but keep records if it continues to return and report any larger mould issues to the landlord as soon as they occur. Mould can be caused by dampness in the air if the property is not well ventilated but may also be a sign of larger more structural issues.

 

The landlord is responsible for certain repairs as defined in section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, despite what may be outlined in your tenancy agreement. If a repair is required you should initially check that yours is a secure tenancy (Assured Shorthold) and whether the landlord is therefore responsible.

These guidelines apply to private tenants with a non-resident landlord.

Type of repair Person Responsible
Structural:Structure and exterior, including drains, gutters and external pipes Installations supplying water, gas, electricity and sanitation including basins, sinks, baths and toilets Always the Landlord, even if the tenancy agreement suggests otherwise
Other repairs: e.g. decorations and furnishings No definite responsibility in law: This may depend on what is written in the tenancy agreements or any notes in the rent book.
Tenant’s Damage: Caused by tenants themselves or any of their visitors. Does not include wear and tear. The tenant If repairs have not been carried out by the end of the tenancy the money to carry out the repair will likely be taken from the deposit.
Fair wear and tear The landlord Wear and tear is expected as items get older and money cannot be taken from the deposit for wear and tear.
 

In the case of urgent repairs you should take initial steps to minimise any damage that could be caused, for example, if there is water leaking use a bucket to collect the water and replace when needed.

1. Immediately contact the landlord or his/her agent in person (via phone or visiting the agency)
2. Describe the repairs needed and any damage
3. Stress the urgency
4. Follow up with a letter or email and keep a copy for your records

Emergency situations:
If there is an emergency such as a gas leak, call your gas supplier or the emergency services immediately but remember to inform your landlord too.

It is a good idea to keep records of any repairs that are needed or items that are affected by taking photos or keeping the items. Keep copies of any doctors notes or hospital reports if your health is affected by the problem. If you have had to spend any money because of the repair problem keep any relevant receipts.

 

You should take initial steps to minimise any damage that could be caused, for example, if there is water leaking use a bucket to collect the water and replace when needed.

1. Contact your landlord/agency by phone or in person as soon as possible
2. Follow up the conversation in writing
3. Describe the repairs needed and any damage it is causing
4. Ask for it to be done as soon as possible
5. Always keep a dated copy of any letter sent.

We suggest you send any letters by Recorded Delivery, which would allow you to track the item and ensure it has been received.

It is a good idea to keep records of any repairs that are needed or items that are affected by taking photos or keeping the items. Keep copies of any doctors notes or hospital reports if your health is affected by the problem. If you have had to spend any money because of the repair problem keep any relevant receipts.

 

This may depend on the type of repair needed and the damage it has caused or is causing. When you report the problem your landlord or agent should inform you who is responsible for the work, what can be done to fix it and how long this will take.

If it is an urgent repair the landlord should get back to you quickly to arrange for the work to be done, for example if you have no power or water supply. If the property is un-liveable due to the nature of the problem then it may be that the landlord or agent would be responsible for arranging alternative accommodation. Always speak to an adviser as soon as possible if you are unsure of your rights

If the repair work is less urgent and not causing any significant damage then it is acceptable that the work may take longer to be carried out.
 

If repairs have not been carried out following verbal and written communication with the landlord/agent, you should write to the landlord again allowing them a reasonable period for response but stating that you will be taking further action should they not take any relevant action to resolve the issue.

You should keep a record of the repairs and your efforts to get the landlord or agent to fix them. This might include photographs, copies of any correspondence you have had, receipts from any items you have had to buy as a result of any damage, doctors notes or hospital records if the damage has caused you any health related problems.

If they continue to ignore or refuse to respond to your letters you can contact the local council. Most councils will have a housing advice service (including Colchester Borough Council) and may be able to inspect the property and require the landlord to do repairs.

If you would like to discuss your options or your rights in further detail then please contact the Advice Centre to speak with an adviser