Complain about council or housing association repairs

Find out what action to take if your council or housing association landlord refuses to do repairs, takes too long or does them badly.

Before you take action

Make sure you report the need for repairs to your council or housing association and allow them a reasonable amount of time to do them. Most councils and housing associations carry out repairs once they know about them.

You do not have the right to withhold rent payments if repairs aren't done.

If you don't pay the rent, your landlord could take steps to evict you.

Use your landlord's complaints procedure

If you rent from the council, check your tenants' handbook or landlord's website for details of the complaints procedure.

Find out how to complain to the council.

Housing associations and housing cooperatives should have a formal complaints procedure.

You can use this if you're not happy about the condition of your home.

Find out how to complain to a housing association.

Complain to environmental health

You can ask the environmental health department to send someone to inspect your home for health and safety hazards.

Find out more about complaining to environmental health.

Environmental health may be able to take enforcement action against your landlord if you are a housing association tenant.

If you are a council tenant, they can give the council's housing department advice about what to do to improve conditions in your home.

It's worth complaining as you can use any report provided as evidence for a complaint or legal action.

Find an independent surveyor through the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors.

Complain to the Ombudsman

Complain to the Housing Ombudsman Service if you have gone through your landlord's complaints procedure and are not satisfied with the result.

Find out more about complaining to the Housing Ombudsman Service.

If the ombudsman agrees with your complaint, they can recommend that your landlord takes steps to put things right. They may suggest that your landlord also pays you compensation.

Most councils and housing associations take the steps the ombudsman suggests.

Consider legal action against your landlord

It may be possible to take your landlord to court if you reported repairs but they weren't done.

You may be able to claim compensation for repairs.

Legal aid may be available if your health and safety is at risk. There are strict rules for who qualifies. You may qualify if you have a low income or claim benefits.

Talk to a housing adviser or a solicitor at a law centre or independent firm before making any decisions.

Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.

Claim right to repair scheme compensation

Small repairs in council tenancies are usually covered by the right to repair scheme.

If repairs are not done on time, you can claim a small amount of compensation.

Find out more about the right to repair scheme.

Arrange your own repairs

It may be possible for you to arrange for repairs to be done and deduct the cost from your rent.

If you decide to take this course of action, you must follow the correct procedure. You could be evicted for rent arrears if you don't.

Make sure you keep evidence

Collect all the evidence you can about the repairs that are needed and what you've done to get your landlord to carry them out.

Keep copies of any:

  • letters or emails sent to and from your landlord
  • doctor's notes or hospital reports that show your health has been affected by repair problems
  • a record of any phone calls you make or receive about problems
  • receipts for money spent (for example to replace belongings damaged by mould)

Take photographs to show what's wrong. Try to keep damaged belongings if possible.

Get advice from Shelter

Get advice about repair problems in your council or housing association home.

Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone.

Last updated 08 Jan 2016 | © Shelter

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