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Getting repairs done while renting

This advice applies to Scotland

This information applies to Scotland only

On this page you can find out how to get a repair done and what the responsibilities of your landlord are.

Negotiate with your landlord

If your property is in need of repair, the first step is usually to talk to your landlord. It may be worth trying to negotiate amicably with your landlord, even if they do not have a legal duty to carry out a repair.

It is also advisable to put a repair request down in writing. You should keep copies of letters to your landlord.

If you are a tenant of a local authority or housing association, you should find out how long your landlord usually takes to carry out repairs. This may depend on the urgency of the repair.

If negotiations don't work, you may need to take other action to enforce your rights to repair.

There are useful sample letters to send to your landlord on getting repairs done on the Shelter website at scotland.shelter.org.uk.

Check your type of tenancy and landlord

If you are thinking about taking action about disrepair in your home, you should check what type of tenancy you have first.

There is a useful tenancy checker on the Shelter website at scotland.shelter org.uk.

You will either have a public sector tenancy with a local authority or housing association, or a private sector tenancy with a private landlord or letting agency. Some types of tenancy with a private landlord, for example, short assured tenancies have few rights to stay in the property at the end of the tenancy agreement. This means it is easier for your landlord to ask you to leave.

An adviser will check whether you can try to have the repair done without risking losing your accommodation. They will also be able to check whether your landlord is obliged by law to carry out the repair. If you think discrimination is involved, you should mention this to the adviser. You can get expert advice at your local Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

The private landlord's general responsibilities

A private landlord has general responsibilities for doing repairs no matter what type of tenancy you have. This is called the repairing standard. The landlord must keep in repair and working order:

  • the structure and exterior of the premises, including drains, gutters and external pipes
  • the water and gas pipes  (including, for example, taps)
  • electric wiring (including, for example, sockets), and any electrical appliances supplied by the landlord
  • the basins, sinks, baths and toilets
  • room heaters and water heaters
  • any furnishings provided as part of the tenancy.

The landlord must also provide and maintain smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and alarms, and electrical safety inspections which meet building regulations and Scottish Government guidance.

If your landlord has a duty to meet the repairing standard and does not do so, despite having been told about any problems, you can complain to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber).

There is more information about the repairing standard on the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) website at www.housingandpropertychamber.scot.

Your landlord normally also shares responsibility with other owners for repairs to common parts of the building, for example, stairways, lifts, hallways or garden paths shared with other tenants, owners or the landlord.

The landlord has these duties by law no matter what is written in the tenancy agreement. However, if you ask your landlord to do these repairs, the landlord may attempt to regain possession of the property or not renew the agreement when it expires. Before attempting to use this general right to repairs you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

The public sector landlord's responsibilities

Most public sector tenants are Scottish secure tenants. As a Scottish secure tenant you are entitled to have your accommodation kept in a reasonable state of repair. If you are not sure what type of tenant you are get the help of an experienced adviser for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

There is a useful tenancy checker on the Shelter website at scotland.shelter org.uk.

There are certain repairs which will almost always be the landlord's responsibility, whether or not they are specifically mentioned in the tenancy agreement. Many landlords give details of these repairing obligations in their tenancy agreements, but whether they do or not, the landlord is still responsible for these repairs. These are:

  • the structure and exterior of the premises (such as walls, floors and roof), and the drains, gutters and external pipes. If the property is a house, the essential means of access to it, such as steps from the street, are also included in 'structure and exterior'. It also includes garden paths and steps
  • the water and gas pipes and electrical wiring (including, for example, taps and sockets)
  • the basins, sinks, baths and toilets
  • fixed heaters (for example, gas fires) and water heaters but not gas or electrical cookers.

A public sector landlord will not be responsible for:

  • repairs to anything that has been damaged carelessly. If the landlord does do the repairs, it is entitled to charge for the cost
  • repairs to items which you are entitled to remove from the premises, for example, your own electric or gas fires.

As a Scottish secure tenant you have the right to have certain repairs done within a specified time. This is called the Right to Repair.

The Right to Repair scheme covers small (costing less than £350), urgent repairs, which if they are not carried out within a specified period would affect the tenant's health, safety or security. The repairs include, for example, blocked drains, leaking roofs, broken entryphones and faulty heating systems.

For more information about the Right to Repair scheme see www.gov.scot.

The specified time (ranging from one to seven working days) depends on the type of repair you are reporting to the landlord. You may be able to organise to have the repairs done yourself and claim compensation up to a maximum of £350 from the landlord. Before getting any such work done yourself you should check that the repairs are covered by the Right to Repair scheme. If the repair is not within the scheme the landlord does not have to repay you if you get the repair down yourself. There is more information about getting your public sector landlord to do repairs at scotland.shelter.org.uk.

Tenants with disabilities

If you are public sector tenant with disabilities you may be able to have adaptations made to your home. You will first have to get the need for any adaptations assessed by the local authority department with responsibility for social work. Adaptations could include the installation of a stair lift or hoist or changes to a bathroom or toilet.

If you want to get an adaptation carried out you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

You may also be able to get a grant to make the home more suitable.

If you are a private sector tenant and have disabilities you are also entitled to help for improvements and possibly repairs under a special scheme called the Scheme of Assistance. The scheme provides ways for local authorities to deal with private housing which is in disrepair and/or below the tolerable standard or needs adaptation because of a disability. There is more information about the scheme in a leaflet on the website of the Scottish Government at www.scotland.gov.uk .

There is also more information about your rights as a tenant with disabilities on the Shelter website at scotland.shelter.org.uk.

Options for tenants when the landlord has not carried out the repair

Tenants of a private landlord

If you have requested repairs and your private landlord has not done them, collect all the evidence you can that the repair needs to be done then you have the following options:

  • apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber). There is more information about the repairing standard and the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) at www.housingandpropertychamber.scot
  • check whether the local authority can enforce the repair. This may be possible if the repair is needed to keep the property within tolerable standards, or to meet the repairing standard, or
  • take court action because the repair is a statutory nuisance or prejudicial to health, see scotland.shelter.org.uk, or
  • do the repair her/himself and charge the landlord but only if the repair is one that the landlord has to do, or
  • take action with other tenants who have a similar problem, or
  • withhold rent (although you have no right to do so), or
  • claim compensation in the sheriff court for a number of reasons such as being inconvenienced.

If you do not allow your landlord reasonable access to inspect and carry our repairs to meet the repairing standard, your landlord may be able to ask the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber) for help. You will be able to explain to the Tribunal why you think it is inappropriate or unnecessary for the landlord to use this right of entry. There is more information about this right of entry on the Tribunal website at www.housingandpropertychamber.scot

There is information about how to take more action to get the repair done on the Shelter website at scotland.shelter.org.uk.

You can also get help from an experienced adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

Tenants of a public sector landlord

If you are the tenant of a public sector landlord and it has not fixed defects which have been reported, collect all the evidence you can that the repair needs to be done then you can:

  • use the Right to Repair scheme, or
  • use the complaints procedure. Details about how to do this should be in the tenants handbook, or
  • complain to your local councillor, or
  • complain to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, or
  • take court action to enforce the landlord to do the repair because for example it is causing a statutory nuisance or is prejudicial to health, or
  • do the repairs yourself and charge the landlord for the cost but only if the landlord is meant to do the repair, or
  • take action with other tenants who have a similar problem, or
  • withhold rent (although you have no right to do so), or
  • claim compensation for a number of reasons such as being inconvenienced.

There is more information about getting a repair done at scotland.shelter.org.uk.

For information about what your rights are if you are being disrupted while the repairs are being done see scotland.shelter.org.uk.

You can also get this help from an experienced adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

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