Advice for tenants from specialist housing disrepair solicitors

As experienced housing disrepair solicitors, there is one concern we often hear from tenants.  Can I lose my home for taking action against my landlord for housing disrepair? We want to put your mind at rest and share all the facts.  We want to make the process as simple and stress-free as we possibly can for you.

The process before recruiting housing disrepair solicitors

First, you need to be sure that the repairs in question are the responsibility of your landlord and not your own. There are some repairs that as a tenant you should realistically be expected to make.

Your landlord essentially has to do anything your tenancy agreement says they have to.  But they are also responsible for keeping in repair elements of your home like:

  • The structure and exterior of your home,  ie walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and  doors
  • Basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
  • Water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or heaters.

It’s important to know that these repair responsibilities can’t be removed by anything your tenancy agreement might say. Also, significantly, your landlord isn’t allowed to pass on the cost of any repair work to you.  The repairs and the cost of those repairs is their responsibility.  Knowing your rights, and resolving housing disrepair issues whilst maintaining a good relationship with your landlord can be tricky, but it is possible.

Approach your landlord first

Your landlord can only make repairs when they know there’s a problem.  So make sure you tell them about any repairs that are needed.  It is diligent to back up your reports of these issues in writing.  Especially so if you are worried they won’t be responded to.  And certainly make a note of the dates of the requests you make.  You should also allow the landlord a reasonable amount of time to come back to you.

The Citizens Advice Bureau offer some great advice on reporting repair needs to your landlord, including:

  • Reporting repairs as soon as you notice them, even if you deem them to be minor.
  • When you report a repair request in person or over the phone, follow it up in writing. Keep copies of all correspondence.
  • Allow your landlord or their contractor in to do the repair work.  But be aware you should be given at least 24 hours’ notice – unless it’s an emergency.

Then, if the repairs aren’t made…

If you’ve taken the above steps and either your landlord hasn’t made the repairs, your home is unsafe to live in, or it’s affecting your health and safety, where do you go next?

The CAB recommend in these cases you enlist the help of a specialist housing disrepair solicitor, like Marley Solicitors.

Can I lose my home after making a disrepair claim?

This is a very natural concern, and in short, no, in most cases you should not need to worry about losing your home after making a valid housing disrepair claim against your landlord.  But there are factors you need to be sure of too.

For example if you have rent arrears or have made any breach to the terms of your tenancy agreement, then these could be used as a reason to evict you from the property.  Not least for this reason, we would never recommend withholding rent in a housing disrepair situation. As tempting as it may seem as a means of getting action taken it would be entirely counter productive.  As unfair as it is, ensuring your rent continues to be paid in line with the terms of your tenancy agreement is a very important factor.

But otherwise, your landlord is not legally permitted to evict you for the sole reason of bringing a housing disrepair claim against them.  Speaking to specialist housing disrepair solicitors about what your issues are. Once they know who your landlord is, and what type of tenancy agreement you have, they should help address your concerns on the matter.

A special note for Assured Shorthold Tenants.

One exception to this is for those who are assured shorthold tenants.  In this case there is a theoretical chance your landlord could serve you with a Section 21 notice.  This is when a landlord gives the tenant notice of eviction.  The period of which is normally two months, and for which they don’t need to offer a reason for the eviction.

Even in these instances though, there are lots of reasons why a Section 21 notice may not be served to you.  And in practise, as long as you have provided a written request for disrepair issues to be rectified, if you have not had a response from the landlord within 14 days then they can’t use this as a reason to serve your notice anyway.  So it’s not an inevitable outcome by any means.  But retaliatory servings of Section 21 notices are just something any assured shorthold tenants should be aware of.

Your right to live in a home in a good state of repair

Please remember, it’s your right to be able to live in a home where you and your family are safe.  For that reason you are protected by law and provisions like the housing disrepair compensation system are in place for occasions where they are needed.  But losing your home or damaging the relationship you have with your landlords can be a worrying prospect.  So please get in touch with us on any concerns you may have and we can run through the options with you.