Things can go wrong in any rented property. There could be a dripping tap in the bathroom. Or something more serious could come up, like a gas leak.

It’s important to know who’s responsible for fixing things in your home, what you need to do as a tenant, and when to contact your landlord.

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Who is responsible for repairs to your rented home?

Both you and your landlord have a duty to look after the home.

Your landlord should make most of the big repairs if you are a private tenant.

Big repairs include:

  • electrical wiring and safety
  • gas pipes and boilers
  • heating and hot water
  • chimneys and ventilation
  • sinks, baths, toilets, pipes and drains
  • shared areas, like entrance halls and stairways
  • the structure and the outside of the building.

Your landlord must always take care of these repairs, even if your contract or tenancy agreement says something different.

Your landlord also must do anything extra that’s included in your tenancy agreement.

You need to tell your landlord about any work that needs to be done as soon as you can. This will give them time to fix things for you. It will also make sure the problem doesn’t get worse.

If a repair problem gets worse because you didn’t report it, your landlord might say any damage caused was your fault.

You’ll be responsible for minor repairs to your home and some maintenance.

Minor repairs and maintenance include:

  • keeping your home clean and tidy
  • the safety of your own electrical items
  • keeping gardens or outside areas in a reasonable state
  • changing light bulbs and smoke alarm batteries
  • fixing anything you’ve damaged.

My landlord won’t make the repairs I need

You should let your landlord or letting agent know of any problems as soon as they arise. You can do this in person, by phone, text, email or in writing.

You need to give your landlord reasonable time to make the repairs to your home. How long you need to give them depends on how serious the problem is.

You should take photos of the problem and keep a record of any conversations or updates. You might need these later.

These can include:

  • photos of any damage - both when reported and showing changes over time
  • any letters, texts, emails or notes of phone calls between you and your landlord or letting agent
  • notes of any conversations or estimates from workmen sent to carry out the work
  • receipts if you’ve had to replace anything
  • doctors’ letters if the problem has made you ill
  • a copy of your tenancy agreement
  • any other evidence relating to the problem.

You must keep paying your rent even if your landlord or letting agent refuses to make repairs.

If you stop paying your rent or get into arrears, they may try to evict you.

You can complain about your landlord to your letting agent or to your local council if they won't do the repairs.

If you are still unable to resolve things, you may wish to take legal action.

My property is not fit to live in

If there is a risk to your health and safety, or you can’t make full use of your home, it may not be fit to live in.
This could be due to:

  • gas safety risks or leaks
  • unsafe electrics or no electrics
  • fire safety issues
  • damp or no heating
  • rats, mice or other pests
  • structural or internal disrepair
  • unsanitary toilets, bathrooms or kitchens

You can report your landlord to your local council’s Environmental Health department if your home is not fit to live in.

You can find your local council’s contact details on GOV.UK.

Can I decorate my rented home?

You might be allowed to decorate your rented home, depending on your landlord and tenancy agreement.

You should check your tenancy agreement to find out what you can and can’t do. For example, you might be able to paint but not hang pictures.

Talk to your landlord about it first. You may be able to come to an agreement even if your tenancy agreement says you can’t decorate.

You will also need to check if you need to leave the property in the same state as you found it. This could mean redecorating and doing minor repairs when you move out.

Where can I get help?

There are some places you can go to get free advice: Citizens Advice, a Law Centre and Shelter.

You can find out more at Your legal Choices if you think you may need legal advice.

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