Complain about council or housing association repairs

You can complain if your council or housing association refuses to do repairs, does them badly or takes too long to carry out the work.

Before you complain

Make sure you report the repair problem in detail to your landlord.

Always ask your landlord how long the repairs will take. You need to give your landlord reasonable time to complete repairs before you complain.

Some councils and housing associations use a private company to carry out repairs. You can still complain to your landlord. 

Keep paying your rent while you are sorting out repair problems. Your landlord could take steps to evict you if you stop paying rent.

Keep records

Always keep detailed records about any repairs that you ask for. Records are important evidence if you want to complain about repairs.

Make sure your records include:

  • letters or emails to and from your landlord about repairs
  • details of phone calls with your landlord including the time and date
  • photos of problems and work done
  • pictures of any damage caused by repairs
  • details if the landlord or contractor did not turn up when expected
  • medical letters or reports if your health has been affected by repair problems
  • receipts for any money you spend, for example, to replace belongings damaged by mould

Make a formal complaint to your landlord

Ask your landlord for a copy of their complaints procedure.

Put your complaint in writing and keep a record.

A clear complaint can help your landlord understand the problem and what steps are needed to put it right.

Most complaints procedures have at least 2 stages. If you're unhappy with the initial response to your complaint you should ask for a final response.

If you're a council tenant, you can find the right department to complain to on GOV.UK

Housing associations and housing co-operatives should have a formal complaints procedure on their websites.

Contact your local councillor or MP 

You can ask your local councillor or MP for help if you’re unhappy with your landlord’s final response to your complaint.

Find and write to your local councillor or MP

Tell them:

  • why you made your original complaint about repairs
  • why you’re unhappy with your landlord’s response
  • what you want the landlord to do to fix the problems

Ask them to refer you to the Housing Ombudsman if they can't resolve your complaint.

Some councils and housing associations have a tenant panel who can act in the same way as a councillor or MP.

Complain to the Housing Ombudsman

The Housing Ombudsman is a free and independent service.  

You can complain to them if you're unhappy with your landlord's final response to your complaint about repairs.

You can ask your local councillor, MP or tenant panel to refer you to the Housing Ombudsman.

Alternatively, you can complain to the Housing Ombudsman directly. But you must wait until 8 weeks after your landlord gives a final response to your complaint.   

They can investigate how your landlord dealt with your repairs and decide if your landlord acted properly and followed the right procedures.

If they agree with your complaint, they can:

  • recommend that your landlord takes steps to put things right
  • suggest that the landlord pays you compensation

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

You can ask the Housing Ombudsman for help to make your complaint if you need support with the process.

Help from environmental health

Environmental health is a department of the council.

You can ask environmental health to inspect your home for health and safety hazards but they might not take action if you're a council or housing association tenant.  

The council can't take enforcement action against itself.

If you're a housing association tenant, environmental health could take enforcement action but this is rare.

If environmental health do inspect, their report can be used as evidence for a complaint or legal action.

Consider legal action against your landlord

You can sometimes take your landlord to court if the repairs you requested weren't done or were done badly.

The court can order your landlord to carry out repairs and pay you compensation.

Court action takes time and may cost money. It should be a last resort.


Last updated 05 Aug 2019 | © Shelter

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