What is disrepair?
The legal definition of disrepair is that there is damage that needs to be put right.
Some of the most common disrepair problems in rented properties are:
- excess cold, often caused by inadequate heating
- blocked drains
- water leaks and blocked toilets
- roof leaks
- electrical hazards.
- damp and mould (one of the most common causes is condensation). Find out how to prevent damp and mould by visiting our webpage.
If something is not broken, but doesn't work as well as it could, then it is not disrepair, For example, a draughty window that isn't broken doesn't count as disrepair and a landlord wouldn't have to fix it.
What should I do if I think my home is in disrepair?
If you are a tenant, the first step is to contact your landlord. You should be clear about what the problem is and when you first noticed it.
Even if you believe that the damage was caused by someone in your household, it is best to let your landlord know as soon as possible so that the problem does not get worse.
You should allow your landlord a reasonable period to arrange to rectify the problem. If you do not receive a response, contact your landlord in writing and ask him to contact you to resolve the issue. If your landlord fails to respond you could contact our Housing Standards Team.
Tenants have the right to carry out and pay for repairs on their properties. You must get your landlord’s written agreement, but this cannot be unreasonably withheld.
You do not have the right to withhold rent and you should not do this to try to force your landlord to do repairs. This could result in your landlord taking legal action against you for rent arrears and you could lose your home
The Housing Act 2004 gives clarification on whether a home is of a ‘decent’ standard. A home is decent if it is free from any significant hazards to health and safety of the occupants or potential visitors as outlined in the act.
- It meets the current legal standards for housing.
- It is in a reasonable state of repair.
- It has reasonably modern facilities and services.
- It provides a reasonable degree of warmth to the occupants.
How can they help?
The Housing Standards Team can help in the drive to make homes decent. They offer advice and encouragement to homeowners to carry out works to bring their properties up to standard, and make their homes decent. Grants are available for property owners on low incomes or income related benefits, for property repairs or improvements and reducing significant hazards in the home. Find out information on housing improvements grants.
Under the Housing Act 2004, the Team also investigates complaints about poor housing conditions, and can take enforcement action against landlords or owners where there is a significant hazard, with a combination of advice, assistance and enforcement, the Housing Standards Team can work towards making homes decent across the borough.
If you would like further advice or, please contact the Housing Standards Team on 01256 844844, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have not given your landlord the opportunity to rectify the problem before contacting Housing Standards, you will be asked to do this first.