Citizen Advice North Herts: Tips for when repairs need to be made to a privately rented property

Woman and man with laptop

Woman and man with laptop - Credit: Citizen Advice North Herts

If you need to ask your landlord to make repairs in a privately rented flat, here is some advice from Citizens Advice North Herts.

Your landlord is responsible for most major repairs to your home if you rent privately. This includes:

· Structure of the property, for example, walls, roof, windows and doors 

· Sinks, baths, toilets

· Pipes and wiring

· Heating and hot water, for example, the boiler

· Safety of gas and electrical appliances

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You’ll be responsible for minor repairs, for example, changing fuses and light bulbs. You’ll also have to fix anything you’ve damaged.

The law in England states that your landlord must provide accommodation that is safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm.

If you have problems such as electrical wiring that you think might be faulty, certain kinds of damp, or an infestation by pests, the landlord has certain legal obligations to put things right.

Write to your landlord as soon as you notice a problem. You could be held responsible if it gets worse. It’s best to put it in writing - send it to your landlord and keep a copy yourself. Include photographs of the problems. Keep a record of all communications and evidence relating to the disrepair.

If a letting agent manages the property for your landlord, write to them and they should talk to your landlord. The letting agent will be responsible for making sure your landlord does the repairs.

If your landlord's responsible for the repairs, they should do them in a ‘reasonable’ amount of time. What counts as reasonable depends on the problem. For example, a broken boiler should be fixed sooner than a leaky tap.

If that doesn’t prompt any action, then Citizens Advice can help with next steps. These could include contacting your local council (who will have dedicated officers for dealing with disrepair in private rented properties) or asking for a visit by the environmental health team.

Tenants can take their landlords to court to force them to carry out repairs. However, it’s worth getting some advice and thinking carefully before embarking on this route.

You can contact CANH via AdviceLine 0800 144 88 48 (10am to 4pm) or via our website