Sorting out repairs is one of the most common problems in privately rented homes. You should know which repairs you are responsible for, which repairs your landlord must do, and how to report problems.
Your landlord is legally responsible for repairs to the structure of the building: the roof, windows, doors, drains, gutters, baths, sinks, toilets, heating, hot water, damp and general building repairs. They must also repair damage that was caused by someone with no connection to you - for example during a break-in or vandalism. You must do minor jobs, like replacing fuses, or clearing a blocked sink. You must also repair damage that you or your visitors have caused.
When a repair needs doing, tell the landlord in writing as soon as possible. Or phone them if it’s an emergency (such as a burst pipe). You have to give the landlord a reasonable time to do the repair. There are no hard and fast rules about how long work should take; it depends on the urgency of the job. A blocked toilet should be repaired much more quickly than a sticking window for example. If the repair isn’t done in a reasonable time, even after reminding the landlord, do not stop paying your rent. The Council can help.
Your landlord has the right to come into your home to check what needs repairing - but they must give you at least 24 hours notice, and must come at an agreed time (although you’ll obviously want them to come as quickly as possible if it’s an emergency job).
The property you rent must meet certain health and safety standards by law. If your landlord doesn’t meet these standards they are risking your safety. The landlord is committing an offence and could have legal action taken against them.
The law says that gas appliances must be properly installed and maintained to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. The landlord must get all gas appliances including central heating systems, heaters, fires, cookers and gas pipework and flues checked once a year by a Corgi registered installer. They must have a certificate of compliance to show that this has been done.
The landlord should ensure that the electrical installation in a property is in a safe and satisfactory condition; it is also an offence for a landlord to supply unsafe electrical equipment. Although there is no legal responsibility on the landlord to test the electrical installation and electrical equipment, it is good practice for a competent electrician to check appliances once a year and have the electrical installation inspected every 5 years.
New regulations will require private landlords to ensure the fire safety of their tenants as well as offer protection against carbon monoxide poisoning. The new regulations require that from 1 October 2015, landlords will be required to install a smoke alarm on every floor of the property and a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms containing a solid fuel appliance. Landlords will be required to check that alarms are working at the start of every new tenancy. For further information on the legal responsibilities of landlords visit www.communities.gov.uk.
If you're a private tenant and your landlord hasn’t installed adequate fire precautions, your local council will be able to advise you on the next steps and can make them comply with the law. Remember never compromise your own safety. Test your smoke alarm regularly.
Fire safety in HMOs
The landlord must keep to specific laws about fire safety if they rent out a property that’s occupied by more than one household - known as a ‘house in multiple occupation’ or HMO. An HMO could be: a house split into separate bedsits; a shared house or flat where tenants have separate tenancy agreements; a hostel; or a bed and breakfast hotel which is not just for holidays.
Houses in Multiple Occupation ( HMO s) must have adequate, and well-maintained fire alarms, extinguishers and fire blankets, fire doors, fire escapes and escape routes, smoke or heat alarms.
We strongly recommend that even if you don’t live in an HMO you ask your landlord to put smoke alarms in your home, and that they are checked regularly.
All furniture (except furniture made before 1950) included in the accommodation must meet all the current fire resistance requirements and carry permanent labels confirming this. This applies to anything which is upholstered or has a filling - like sofas, armchairs, mattresses, pillows, padded headboards and cushions.