Who is responsible for what?
Landlord responsibilities for rented homes in the regulated housing sector will always include repairs to the following:
- the structure and exterior of the building (e.g. walls, stairs, roof, chimneys / ventilation, external doors and windows)
- electrical wiring
- gas pipes and boilers
- heating and hot water
- bathroom fixtures (sinks, baths, toilets, pipes and drains)
- common areas including entrance halls and stairways
If works to any of these are undertaken at your home, the operatives should also clean and decorate (if required) to return your home to its previous condition.
Your landlord is also responsible for ensuring your home is safe and fit to live in. Health and safety obligations falling on landlords include the requirement to maintain and deal with all gas, electrical and fire safety matters.
Timescales for landlord completion of repairs?
In general terms, all repairs which are your landlord’s responsibility must be undertaken in a “reasonable” period of time.
Most landlords will have published Repairs Policies (or similar) which set out their target timescales for completion of different types of repairs (e.g. Emergency; Urgent; Routine repairs).
Tenants will normally be responsible for the following:
- some minor repairs that are detailed in your tenancy agreement (Note: for items set out above which are designated as the Landlord’s responsibility, these remain the landlord’s responsibility even if the tenancy agreement says otherwise);
- fixing appliances and/or furniture (Note: in some cases the landlord might also be responsible for the repair and upkeep of some appliances if this is stipulated in your tenancy agreement);
- damage caused by the tenant, their household, or family and friends visiting you.
It might be that you are required to pay for a repair which you or someone visiting you caused, or in circumstances where you are considered to have not taken ‘reasonable care’ (e.g. blockages to pipes and drains) even if this is the landlord’s responsibility. Landlords will normally operate a “Rechargeable Repairs” policy setting out the terms of such arrangements. Rechargeable repairs cannot extend to “normal wear and tear” which tenants are not responsible for.
Your landlord might require access to your home where this is “reasonable” such as to undertake repairs or to inspect your property. Except in the cases of emergency, tenants are entitled to 24 hours notice. Tenants must co-operate with such access requests.
Is my home ‘fit for habitation’?
Generally, your home would be considered ‘unfit for habitation’ if it would not be considered reasonable for you to continue living there in its current condition. This could be because the conditions could negatively and seriously affect your health; place you or your household a risk of physical harm or injury; or mean that you are unable to make full use of your home.
There are a broad range of circumstances that might make it unreasonable for a tenant to continue to live in their home in its current condition. Examples include:
- health and safety risks (i.e. gas, electrical or fire safety issues)
- disrepair (e.g. structural problems)
- damp issues
- lack of adequate sanitation
In the first instance, you should contact your landlord to inform them of the situation and request that action be taken.
If reasonable and proportionate steps are not taken, you can complain about this to your landlord.
There is also the option to take formal legal action. This should normally be a last resort. The court will expect you to demonstrate that you have sought to take other steps to resolve the situation with your landlord before such steps are taken. There are a small number of tenancies (fixed term that started before 20 March 2019) which are not covered by the fitness rules. If you have a licence instead of a tenancy agreement, these are also not covered by the fitness rules.