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Getting repairs done if you're renting privately

This advice applies to Northern Ireland
Your private landlord is responsible for most major repairs to your home. 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
  • other shared areas, for example stairways

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

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 doesn’t have to make improvements to a property, for example putting in double glazing. They might have to make reasonable adjustments - for example, if you have a disability and need a handrail to help you get upstairs.

Your landlord must make reasonable adjustments to your home if you have a disability. For example, if you need a handrail to make it easier to get upstairs. 

You won’t be responsible for repairs caused by other people, for example vandalism.

Your tenancy agreement or statement of terms might give you extra rights, so it's a good idea to check your paperwork.

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

Write to your landlord

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.

Unless it's an emergency, your landlord should give you at least 24 hours' 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 your landlord still won’t do the repairs after you’ve complained, you could take your landlord to court to get them to do the repairs.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re thinking about taking your landlord to court.

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 nidirect.

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, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

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