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How long should a private landlord take to do repairs?

Your landlord should do repairs within a reasonable time from when you tell them about the problem.

The law does not say how long a reasonable time is. It depends how serious or urgent the problem is and how vulnerable the people living in the property are.

It's a good idea to report repairs to your landlord or letting agent in writing.

Landlords have to fix things they are responsible for.

Find out when a landlord can charge for repairs or damage you cause.

Health problems and vulnerable tenants

Repairs are urgent if they put people who live in the property at risk of serious harm.

Some people could be more seriously affected. For example:

  • children

  • older or vulnerable people

  • people with mobility problems

  • anyone with health problems or disabilities made worse by the repair problems

Tell your landlord if you or someone you live with is seriously affected.

Example: Broken stair banisters

You could say:

I need the problem to be fixed within 48 hours because the stairs are unsafe.

Young children or older people live with me and there is a risk of injury.

Damage and risk of injury

Some repairs should be treated as an emergency if they're needed to make your home safe or stop more damage.

For example:

  • leaking pipes that could cause damage, or get into electrics

  • unsafe wiring

  • broken locks on external doors

  • blocked drains

It is reasonable to ask for problems like this to be fixed within 24 hours.

If this is not possible, you can ask your landlord to make your home safe while they arrange full repairs.

Example: Broken front door lock

You could say:

The front door lock is not working and I am unable to lock the property.

This is unsafe and means I cannot protect my belongings.

Because of this, I need to ask you to fix it before the end of today.

Gas, electricity and fire safety rules

Your landlord must follow gas, electricity and fire safety rules.

Find out about deadlines for:

Landlords also have to provide working smoke alarms on every floor of your home, and repair them if they stop working.

You are responsible for changing smoke alarm batteries.

Repairs during cold weather

Some repair problems should be fixed more quickly in winter.

Example: No heating in winter

You could say:

Please arrange for the repair to be done within 24 hours because of the cold weather.

I am concerned about the effect on my health if the problem is not fixed quickly.

I am also worried that no heating during such cold temperatures will cause further damage to the property.

If the problem keeps happening

Ask your landlord to respond more quickly if the same problem keeps happening.

Problems that are not fixed properly can lead to further risk to health and damage.

Example: Recurring leaks

You could say:

There is still a water leak in the property despite contractors attending.

Please arrange for someone to fix the problem within 24 hours.

I am concerned that the leak will lead to damp. This affects my health and could damage my belongings and the property.

Problems finding a contractor

Your landlord may not be able to get someone to do the repair straight away.

If the property is unsafe to live in, they should still aim to fix the problem in 24 hours.

Remind your landlord about repairs

Write to your landlord again if they do not arrange to carry out the repair after you report it.

Copy our sample text into an email to your landlord or letting agent.

[Use the subject: Follow up request for urgent repairs]

I’m writing again to ask for repairs at [your address].

The repairs needed are [list the repairs needed].

I contacted you about this on [dates of conversations, messages or emails].

The disrepair is: [list any problems caused. For example, if the disrepair affects your health or makes your home unsafe].

Please contact me within the next 2 days to agree a time for the repairs to be done.

I look forward to hearing from you.

You can also send the letter as an email attachment or by post.

If you deal with a letting agent

Your letting agent should make sure problems are fixed in a reasonable time.

The time starts from when you tell them about the problem.

You could contact your landlord directly if:

  • your agent takes too long to get the repair done

  • you do not think the agent has told the landlord about the problem

Complain about the agent if you are not happy with how they're dealing with the repair.

Complain to environmental health

You can complain to your council about delayed repairs if your landlord:

  • refuses to carry out repairs they're responsible for

  • has not done repairs after a reasonable amount of time has passed

The council can speak to your landlord on your behalf. If the problem is serious, they could force your landlord to do repairs.

Some landlords take steps to evict tenants who complain about repairs.

Find out when you're protected from this type of revenge eviction.

Ask to pay less rent

You could ask for a rent reduction if, for example:

  • repairs are not done in a reasonable time

  • you pay for repairs yourself

Your landlord might not agree to pay you back if you pay for repairs. Ask them to confirm in writing if they agree to a rent reduction.

If you want to leave your tenancy

You could:

Make sure you have somewhere to move to before you take steps to end your tenancy.

Court action

You could take legal action to get repairs done.

This takes time and you might have to pay legal fees. Get legal advice before starting a claim.

Last updated: 8 June 2023

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