DO YOU WORRY ABOUT HOUSING DISREPAIR? Where to get advice

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1 DO YOU WORRY ABOUT HOUSING DISREPAIR? Where to get advice East Cambridgeshire District Council Large Print, CD and other formats are available on request Polish Portuguese If you need this leaflet to be translated in your language, please contact us on: Jeżeli potrzebują Państwo tę ulotkę w języku polskim, prosimy o kontakt se você precisa este folheto a ser traduzida na sua língua, por favor entre em contato conosco

2 Steps to take if you think your property is in need of repair, If your home is in state of disrepair, you should notify your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible. The first step to take is to contact your landlord. Landlords are only responsible for repairs that they have been told about. Do this straightaway for faults that could damage health, like faulty electrical wiring. It may be worth trying to negotiate amicably with your landlord. It is also advisable to put a repair request down in writing. If you haven t received a reply to your request for repairs, contact your landlord again telling him that repairs are still not done. However you have to give your landlord a reasonable time (agreed by both parties) to start doing the repairs. If a reasonable amount of time has passed and your landlord is refusing to do repairs, write again to say you ll be asking the council to check if your home is safe to live in. But not all damages are your landlord s responsibilities. As a tenant you also have responsibilities for the property

3 What are your responsibilities as a tenant? Your responsibilities include Ensuring that the property is clean Carrying out general maintenance such as changing fuses, light bulbs and unblocking sinks if required Ensuring that no vents are blocked and that the heating system is used responsibly. Maintaining the garden if there is one and if this is stated in the tenancy agreement. You will usually be responsible for minor repair jobs, that are due to normal wear and tear unless they are caused by disrepair or damp (which would be your landlord s responsibilities). Paying for the repairs if you damage another tenant s flat, e.g. if water leaks into another flat from an overflowing bath, Paying to put right any damage caused by your family and friends. However, be aware that you should only carry out repairs if the tenancy agreement says you can. You can t be forced to do repairs that are your landlord s responsibility. What are your Landlords responsibilities? Under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985, the Landlord is responsible for the following repairs:

4 The structure and exterior of the property Bath, sinks, basins and other sanitary fittings including pipes and drains Heating and hot water installations Gas appliances and electricity supply and meters, Pipes, flues and ventilations Common areas like staircases Any damage they cause through attempting repairs Other repairs as agreed by landlord and tenant This information should be in your tenancy agreement Repairs are NOT improvement There is a significant difference between repair and improvement Under your landlord s statutory repairing obligations, he is liable to put your property into repair in certain circumstances but he is under no obligation to carry out improvement. An obvious example between repairs and improvement is windows If the property has rotten window frames It is Landlord responsibility to put it right and to carry out repairs However, he s under no obligation to install double glazing This would be seen as an improvement to the property

5 If your landlord refuses to carry out repairs that are his responsibility, then you have various options which are open to you Who to contact if your landlord ignores your request? The council for help and advice If your landlord ignores or refuses your request to carry out necessary repairs, contact the Housing Service or the Environmental Health Service and explain the situation. Officers should be able to offer help and advice and can contact the landlord with your agreement and try to negotiate with them to do repairs. We as a council have a duty to take action against private landlords and other social landlords such as housing association if: The condition of the property affects the health of the occupiers, for example, if it is damp, infested with insects or has a leaking roof The property causes a nuisance to people living nearby, for example, if damp is coming into a person s property from next door, or if rotten windows may fall into the street and injures others. The council also has the legal power to inspect and look at the condition of your property using a risk assessment approach called the Housing Health and

6 Safety Rating System (HHSR) and then if the disrepair is serious enough, the council will serve a legal notice on the landlord to make them do the repair work. If your landlord does not do the repair work needed in time set by the council, the council can take the landlord to court or do the repair then get payment from the landlord. However, if the council doesn't think the repair problem is causing danger to the health and safety of your household, it might not take any further action. Frequent example of a dispute between a tenant and the landlord The dampness of the property If the dampness in the property is as a result of condensation through tenants not drying clothes properly or improper use of heating and windows If the dampness is caused by condensation due to poor heating, insulation ort ventilation Landlord would not normally be responsible to re-decorate as a result of the dampness and it is the tenant s responsibility for the damage and to carry out repair work. Tenant needs first to get the landlord s permission to carry out the repair work The landlord would be required to resolve these problems and the Environmental Health Department could be involved to ensure the landlord takes the recommended action to eliminate dampness

7 Which evidence you need if you have to make a complaint? Evidence include Photographs of what needs repairing Copies of letters or s you have sent to your landlord Receipts for any items you ve had to buy to replace damaged items. For example clothing or furniture. Medical reports, if the disrepair has been harmful to your health or the health of someone else in your household. A report from the council s environmental health departments Other professional reports or bills if appropriate, for example if you ve had to pay for pest control or get a surveyor to check for damp. Having as much information as possible will help if you need to take a legal action What you SHOULD NOT do when there is a repair problem? Withhold rent to try to force your landlord to do repairs o Withholding rent could mean that your landlord takes legal action against you for rent arrears and you could lose your home. In certain circumstances, you can arrange for repairs to be done yourself and use the rent money to pay for the

8 work. The law in this area is complicated so it is important to get advice Is there a risk of eviction? Most private landlords will accept to carry out repairs needed, but some of them will try to evict you instead. Depending on your tenancy, your landlord cannot evict you immediately They will have to give you a period notice (usually two months for a short assured tenancy) Get advice if your landlord is harassing you, trying to illegally evict you or if you received an eviction order What if the landlord still refuses to carry out repairs despite the council s notice? If your landlord has broken the tenancy agreement or the law by renting you a property in poor condition and refusing to carry out repairs, you can take a legal action against them. However, before taking a civil court action: You must give your landlord written notice of the repairs that need to be done You will not be able to start court action until you have given your landlord reasonable time to carry out the repairs.

9 If you are successful: you may get a court order for your landlord to carry out the necessary repair work you may be able to get compensation ( this could be for the inconvenience and any damage to your property or your health that is a direct result of your landlord not carrying out the repairs) Legal aid may be available to help with the costs of your legal action Who to contact for further advice ECDC Housing Options You can contact us in any of the following ways: By visiting our Drop-in Surgery s Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday between 8:45 to 12:00 (other interviews are appointment only) East Cambridgeshire District Council The Grange Nutholt Lane Ely CB7 4EE By phone By

10 By writing to us Housing Services East Cambridgeshire District Council The Grange Nutholt Lane Ely CB7 4EE In emergencies If you need to contact us outside of office hours in an emergency, please call: Complaint If you need to complain, please use our separate complaints leaflet. You can get a copy from our office ECDC Environmental Health Department By phone By By writing to us Environmental Health Department East Cambridgeshire District Council The Grange Nutholt Lane Ely CB7 4EE

11 Advice from other sources Citizens Advice Bureau information 70 Market Street Ely CB7 ALS (from landline) (from mobile) Shelter 88 Old Street London EC1V 9HU Free housing advice helpline Which? Consumer Rights Advice Line on Monday to Friday between 8.30 am to 6.00 pm The service costs 43 per year for unlimited advice over the phone

12 Civil legal advice You may get legal aid if your home is at risk. They offer advice to people in debt who are on a low income or on benefits. Help is also available on a number of other topics including housing, family, welfare benefits (Upper Tribunal appeals and above), discrimination and education. You may be entitled to a free half an hour over the phone or appointed via an agreed list of solicitors. The helpline number is It's open from 9am-8:00pm Monday to Friday and 9am-12.30pm Saturday. Outside of these hours, you can leave a message and they will call you back the next working day. Their website is: Advice UK This service offer advice to the public, some providing specialist advice for minority ethnic and refugee communities and people with disabilities. For further information phone Cambridge House Law Centre We offer a range of legal services by way of appointment, from one off advice sessions, to case work and representation at court or Tribunal hearings 1 Addington Square London SE5 OHF

13 Don t leave it until your home fall down If you think your home is in poor condition that affects your health and safety Contact your landlord as soon as possible Gather as much evidence as you can Don t stop paying your rent If the landlord still doesn t resolve the problem of the repairs and no arrangement is made to carry out the repair work contact the council (Housing Options and Environmental Health Department)

14 Notes

15 Notes...

16 East Cambridgeshire District Council :

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