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Disrepair

disrepair

If you're renting the property where you live, you have a right under law to a certain standard of accommodation.

If you feel that your accommodation is in a state of disrepair, then we can advise you on how to improve the situation.

Landlords' duties

The landlord has extensive duties to do repairs. These duties arise from a number of sources:-

A statutory nuisance is something that is:

  • prejudicial to or damaging to health, or a
  • nuisance – this includes smoke, fumes, dust, noise, or noxious gases escaping from the property. Traffic noise is not included, neither is noise from day-to-day activities.

Your local council is under a duty to take practical steps to investigate complaints of a statutory nuisance. The most serious nuisance is one that is prejudicial or damaging to health.

The main area of law comes under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, implied into every tenancy agreement granted for a period of seven years or less, is an obligation on the landlord to:

  • keep in good repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling (including drains, gutters and external pipes).
  • keep in repair and proper working order the installations in any rented accommodation for the supply of water, gas, electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity).
  • keep in repair and proper working order the installations for space heating and heating water.

If any of these need attention, then you need to notify your landlord of the disrepair. These regulations do not mean that the landlord has to do work which you are liable for and its worth remembering that although you have a right to some repairs you also have responsibilities as a tenant to keep the property in good order. Additionally your landlord is not under a duty to improve the property.

A repair is generally different from an improvement. For example, replacing an older gas boiler that is not broken, with a new, more energy efficient boiler, would be an improvement rather than a repair.

In some cases, poor housing conditions are caused by the bad design of a building. For example, poor insulation, a lack of ventilation and inadequate heating can cause condensation and dampness. If a problem is caused by a design defect then it may not count as disrepair.

Sometimes, whether something is disrepair or not, will depend on the individual circumstances of the case.

Private tenants experiencing problems with their landlords may find it useful to contact the Tenancy Relations Officer of their local authority.

More information for Private Tenants and Social Housing on the Shelter website.

Legal advice

It's worth remembering that disrepair is a complex area of housing law. If your landlord fails to carry out the repairs or do them to the required standard, you should call THT Direct and we’ll put you in touch with a local advice service, or you can look up your local CAB.

 

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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 31/3/0013 by T. Kelaart

Date due for the next review: 31/1/2014

Content Author: R. Kaye

Current Owner: Advocacy & Advice

More information:

Astin, Diane. Housing Law: an adviser's handbook, LAG 2008

Chapter 9

Disrepair and housing conditions – actions by occupiers p329

Landlord's implied repairing obligation p335-336