Repairs, Safety and Disrepair
If your accommodation is in a poor state of repair, there may be things you can do to solve this.
The landlord is not responsible for all repairs - in some cases you as a tenant are responsible. You must make sure you take reasonable care of the property, using the premises in a 'tenant-like manner'.
Before you sign a contract
If the landlord has promised to do repairs and/or make improvements before you move in, get in writing what these will be, a completion date and what penalty there will be for the landlord if they aren’t completed.
These are the pieces of legislation that give you your rights as a tenant:
• Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires the landlord to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling house, and keep in repair and proper working order certain installations in the property.
• The Environmental Protection Act 1990 covers matters like dangerous wiring, condensation or mould growth and defective gas or electrical fittings.
• The Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is used to identify potential risks and hazards.
• Safety of Gas & Electrical Appliances. Gas appliances must be checked at least every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer. If your landlord provides any electrical appliances, they are required to ensure that they are safe for use when first supplied.
• Fire Safety of Furniture and Furnishings. Your landlord must ensure that any furniture and furnishings they supply meet fire resistance requirements.
• The Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Regulations state that properties of three or more stories with five or more people must be licensed and meet certain standards.
Getting repairs done
As soon as you see any disrepair report it to your landlord or agent immediately, giving them reasonable time to deal with the problem. After giving 24 hours written notice (except in an emergency), the landlord can access the property to carry out repairs which they are obliged to do, and enter the property to inspect its condition and state of repair. If your landlord refuses, doesn’t respond or is unreasonably slow in doing repairs, you should seek advice. Do not withhold rent if there is a problem, your main options are:
• Contact your council’s Environmental/Public Health Section who can inspect your accommodation and take action requiring the landlord to carry out repairs.
• Contact UNIPOL Student Homes if your landlord is registered with them. Their DASH Code states the standards of accommodation and management your landlord should be meeting if they are registered with Unipol.
• You could consider taking legal action yourself through the County Court and/or the Magistrates Court.
• If you are thinking about using the rent to pay for repairs you are required to follow a set procedure.
If you are considering terminating your contract because your landlord/agent is failing to carry out repairs for which they are responsible, seek advice before you take any action.
Please contact Students' Union Advice if you need advice about disrepair or housing conditions.
Directgov: Information about repairs and standards