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Disrepair - what are your options if you are a social housing tenant?

This advice applies to England

If you rent your home from a social housing landlord, they're responsible for dealing with most repair problems. Many social landlords fix repair problems as soon as they become aware of them, but this doesn't always happen.

This page looks at who social housing landlords are and what standards they have to meet. It also lists the options open to you if your landlord doesn't deal with disrepair.

What are social housing landlords?

Social housing landlords include local authorities, housing associations, housing trusts, arm's-length management organisations (ALMOs), housing co-operatives and tenant management organisations (TMOs).

Standards for landlords in England

Social housing landlords have to follow certain rules set down by the regulator of social housing, the Homes and Communities Agency. This includes meeting certain standards on repairs and maintenance.

For example, social housing landlords must have a repairs and maintenance service that responds to a tenant’s needs, offers choice, and aims to get the work done right first time. They must ensure that a tenant's home meets the Decent Homes Standard – see below.

They also have to meet all legal requirements that provide for the health and safety of residents in their homes.

Standards for landlords in Wales

Registered social landlords (RSLs) such as housing associations, are expected to manage their accommodation in line with standards set out by the Welsh Government.

This includes having an efficient repairs and maintenance service that responds to a tenant’s needs.  

The Decent Homes Standard in England

Accommodation owned by social housing landlords must meet the Decent Homes Standard. Landlords must continue to maintain homes to at least this standard. A decent home must:

  • meet the current minimum standard for housing, that is, that the property must be free of Category 1 hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System
  • be in a reasonable state of repair
  • have reasonably modern facilities and services
  • provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort - this is about insulation and heating.
  • More about the Housing Health and Safety Rating System
  • More about Decent Homes at www.gov.uk

Options for taking further action for social housing tenants

If you’ve reported a repair to your landlord and they haven’t done anything about it, you can take further action. If you haven’t reported the repair then you should do that first.

There are several options for you to consider, for example, making a complaint or taking legal action.

If you want to take further action about disrepair, it's always useful to keep records and gather evidence of the repairs and any contact with your landlord.

Checking your housing status

Tenants in private rented accommodation often have to think about the fact that a landlord may decide to evict them rather than do the repairs that are needed. This is something that social housing tenants don't have to worry about.

This is because social housing landlords are subject to more checks and balances than private landlords.

Next steps

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