Getting repairs done if you're renting privately

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

Check if this advice applies to you

This advice will usually apply to you if all the following are true:

  • you have a private landlord

  • you don’t live with your landlord

  • you started renting on or after 15 January 1989

In most cases this means you’ll have an ‘assured shorthold tenancy’ or ‘assured tenancy’.

This advice applies to people with one of these tenancies. It’s worth checking your tenancy agreement to make sure.

If you’re not sure, or you have a different kind of agreement with a private landlord, check your tenancy type if you rent from a private landlord.

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

  • the 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

  • the safety of gas and electrical appliances

You’ll be responsible for minor repairs, for example changing fuses and light bulbs. You’ll also have to fix anything you’ve damaged. You won’t be responsible for repairing damage caused by other people, for example vandalism.

If your home is damp, your landlord might not be responsible. It depends on what type of damp it is - and what caused it. Read more about problems with damp.

Your landlord might have to make reasonable adjustments to the property - for example, if you have a disability and need a handrail to help you get upstairs. Check how to ask for reasonable adjustments if you have a disability.

You should check your tenancy agreement to find out if your landlord is responsible for any other repairs. For example, they might be responsible for repairing appliances they’ve provided, like a washing machine or fridge.

If your landlord isn’t responsible for repairing an appliance they’ve provided, you can still ask them to repair or replace it - but they don’t have to agree.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you're not sure what repairs your landlord must do.

If your home isn’t safe for you to live in

If your home isn’t safe to live in, it might be ‘unfit for human habitation’ - this includes shared parts of the building like entrance halls and stairs.

Your landlord has to make sure your home is fit for human habitation. This applies to most types of tenancy.

Your home might be unfit for human habitation if for example:

  • it has a serious problem with damp or mould

  • it gets much too hot or cold

  • there are too many people living in it

  • it’s infested with pests like rats or cockroaches

  • it doesn’t have a safe water supply

It doesn’t matter if the problem was there at the start of the tenancy or only appeared later.

Your landlord doesn’t have to make sure your home’s fit for human habitation if you caused the problem by:

  • not looking after your home properly - for example not using the extractor fan after having a shower

  • doing something unreasonable - for example leaving candles burning when you go out

If you think your home isn’t fit for human habitation or you’re not sure, talk to an adviser.

Asking your landlord to make repairs

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.

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.

Getting evidence

You should get evidence of the problem, for example:

  • photos of the damage, particularly if the problem gets worse over time

  • any letters, texts, emails or notes of any conversations between you and your landlord or letting agent

  • receipts if you’ve had to replace damaged items

  • letters from your GP if the problem has made you ill

  • a copy of your tenancy agreement

Keep any evidence you've got - you might need it later if you have to take further action to get repairs done.

Read more about taking action if your landlord doesn't do repairs.

Unless it's an emergency, your landlord should give you at least 24 hours' written notice if they want to visit your home to see the damage or do repairs.

If your landlord won’t do the repairs

Keep paying your rent. If you don't, you'll get into rent arrears and your landlord might then try to evict you.

You can complain about your landlord or complain about your letting agent if they won't do the repairs.

If the problem is affecting your health or safety

You can report your landlord to the Environmental Health department at your local council if your home is in a bad state of repair.

You should do this if your home is unsafe or making you ill. This could be, for example because of:

  • a gas leak

  • a broken step

  • mould or damp

  • mice or cockroaches

You’ll need to send details of the problem in writing, for example when the problem started.

You can find your local council’s contact details on GOV.UK.

Your landlord could try to evict you if you complain. If you have an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 1 October 2015, you might have more protection against being evicted. Read more about what to do if your landlord tries to evict you after you’ve complained.

An Environmental Health Officer will look at your home and order your landlord to do repairs if they think it’s harmful to your health or safety. Keep evidence of what they say or any report they write.

If your home is found to be unfit to live in, you might need to find a new place to live. Read more about what help you can get if you're being evicted.

Your council should get back to you quickly if the problem is severe or if someone in your home is very young, ill or elderly.

If the council doesn’t take any action or doesn’t act quickly enough, you could ask them to look at their decision again - for example if you’ve got evidence that the problem is worse than they thought.

If you're still not happy with your council's decision, you can complain. Contact your local council and ask how you can make a complaint.

If your landlord still won’t fix the problem, you can take them to court. Check how to take your landlord to court.

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