Asking the local authority for help with repairs

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

Landlords are responsible for dealing with most repairs to rented accommodation. If you’ve reported repairs to your landlord and they haven’t done anything, then the local authority may be able to help you.

This page tells you about which tenants the local authority can help, what they have the power to do, and how you can complain if you're unhappy with the local authority's response.

Which tenants can the local authority help?

Local authority tenants

If you're a tenant of the local authority, this information will be of limited use to you. Some Environmental Health departments may serve informal notices on the local authority. However, because the Environmental Health department is part of the local authority, this means that it can’t take formal action against itself.

If you're a local authority tenant and your landlord's failure to make repairs is affecting your health or causing a nuisance, you could take action yourself in the magistrates’ court. You will need help from a specialist adviser or a solicitor to do this.

Taking court action can be expensive and legal aid isn't available for someone to represent you, but you may be entitled to advice and assistance to prepare for court action. Taking court action should be a last resort so it's best to consider other options first.

Other tenants

If you're a tenant in private rented accommodation or a housing association tenant, you can ask the local authority for help.

In some cases, a private landlord may evict a tenant rather than do repair work. Make sure you know whether you're at risk of eviction before you ask the local authority for help.

What can the local authority do?

If your landlord has failed to have repairs carried out, the Environmental Health department of the local authority can inspect your home. They may be able to force your landlord to take action if:

  • there's a statutory nuisance, that is, your home is in such a state that it's harmful to your health or is a nuisance, or

  • there's a hazard in your home which is a risk to your health or safety following an assessment under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

Complaining about the local authority

You may want to complain about the local authority if you don’t think it has acted properly. For example, if it refuses to carry out an inspection, is slow to carry one out or carries out the inspection but appears to be delaying taking action against your landlord.

If you’re not satisfied with the way the local authority has acted, you could ask it to reconsider its decision or contact your local councillor, MP or Assembly Member to put pressure on the local authority.

You can contact a local councillor through your local authority or by attending the councillor's advice surgery. You can also find out who your local councillor, MP or Assembly Member is and contact them using the WriteToThem website.

You could also make a formal complaint using the local authority's internal complaints procedure. If you’re unhappy with the outcome, you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman in England or the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Next steps

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Page last reviewed on 07 December 2020