Report the need for repairs to your private landlord as soon as possible. Don't delay taking action if your home is unsafe for anyone living there.
In an emergency such as a gas leak, call your gas supplier or the emergency services immediately. Tell your landlord too.
Contact your landlord as soon as possible if disrepair in your home is harming your health or causing serious damage to the property.
Do this even if you are worried your landlord may evict you.
How to report repairs to your landlord
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Before contacting your landlord, check who is responsible for repairs.
Tell your landlord about any repairs that are needed. Make a note of any conversations you have with your landlord in person or on the phone. Follow up your conversation with a letter confirming what was said and agreed.
Use Shelter's sample letter to report repairs to your landlord.
Keep a copy of your letter and send it to your landlord by recorded delivery. (This will help later if there are any arguments over when the repairs where reported). Ask your landlord if you don't know their address. You have a legal right to know this.
Write to your landlord again if you don't receive a response.
Keep copies of all the letters to and from your landlord.
Do not make a start on the repairs yourself. You could cause more damage or injure yourself and the landlord may charge you if the work has to be undone.
Record details of repairs and damage
Keep details of the repairs needed to your home, for example:
- take photographs of the things that need repairing
- keep belongings that have been affected (such as clothes damaged by dampness) or take photographs of them. Work out how much they are worth
- get an expert (for example an environmental health officer from the council) to inspect your home
- keep copies of any doctor's notes or hospital reports which show that your health has been affected by the problem
Keep receipts for any money you spend because of the repair problem, for example if you have to replace clothes or furnishings because of mould or if you have to pay for pest control or a damp survey.
How long should repairs take?
When you report the repair problem, your landlord should tell you who is responsible for the work and what will be done to fix it. They should also tell you how long repair work will take.
For emergency or urgent repairs, for example you have no power or water supply or if there is a large hole in your roof where rain is coming in, your landlord should get back to you quickly to arrange for the repairs to be done.
If the repair work is routine, for example you have noticed a loose roof tile that might fall off, your landlord should still reply to you quickly but might take slightly longer to arrange the repair.
What happens during repair works?
Allow the landlord reasonable access to the property when repairs are being done. If anyone needs to enter your home, always ask to see their identification card first.
Find out more about what to expect during repairs.
Take action if the landlord won't do repairs
Write to your landlord again if they don't respond to your first letter reporting repairs.
Give the landlord time to respond, but tell them that if the repairs are not carried out within 21 days, you will be taking further action.
Read more about what to do if your landlord refuses to do repairs.
Should you tell your landlord repairs are needed?
It may be a condition of your tenancy agreement that you report all repair issues to your landlord as quickly as possible.
If you notice that something in your home needs fixing, it's best to sort it out without delay. What starts off as a small problem could quickly become expensive to fix.
If you don't report problems, your landlord could:
- blame you for costly repairs
- take money from your tenancy deposit to cover avoidable repairs
- try to evict you
Most landlords will be happy to fix repair problems. It is usually in their best interests to do so. It's your home, but it's also their property and landlords don't want to lose money when letting. Many landlords appreciate having tenants who help them keep their homes in good order.
However, some landlords may decide to evict their tenants rather than pay for repairs. If you have a tenancy with only a short notice period, you have very little protection from eviction. You may decide it's better to put up with repair issues than risk eviction for reporting repairs.
Get advice if you have reported repairs and your landlord has told you to leave, or you are worried that this might happen.
Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.