Dealing with problems in rented properties

What you can do if your rented home needs repairs or isn’t safe or healthy to live in if you’re a private or housing association tenant.

How we can help

If you are a tenant with a private landlord or agent, or a housing association (not a council tenant) use this form to tell us about repairs and/or improvements needed to your home.

Before you use this form, you first need to write to your landlord or agent setting out the issues you have. This will protect your tenancy rights.

You will need to give them 14 days to respond and if they don't respond or give a reasonable response to your issues, please return to this form and complete it.

Remember to retain all correspondence between you and your landlord or agent even if they are text messages.

The council can't, however, get involved in disputes between tenants and landlords over minor defects or routine maintenance.

Do it online

Report a disrepair

We use a risk assessment method to assess the condition and standards of your home. This is called the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System. It means that we will look at the hazards and risks in your home and if they are serious we will get your landlord to carry out repairs and improvements.

Changes due to coronavirus

During the current coronavirus pandemic we are operating a reduced service. We will only be visiting properties where there is an imminent risk to health or safety, that is, where the risk posed by the issues is greater than the potential for spreading coronavirus.

Examples include:

  • structural collapse
  • falling building elements, such as glass or failing walls
  • pests that can spread disease
  • imminent risk of fire
  • electrocution
  • carbon monoxide leaks
  • sewage in someone’s home.

In all other cases officers will try and assist you by phone or email. Officers may also need to be redeployed to help deal with the response to COVID-19. This means it will take longer to deal with your request than usual. Thank you for your patience.

We can't act on behalf of council tenants. If you live in a council property, please see our Complain about housing management page.

Reporting a problem to your landlord

Drains and sewers

Drains are the owner's responsibility if they are:

  • within land in the same ownership as the house they serve
  • not shared with anyone else.

Report any issues with these drains to your landlord and keep copies of any correspondence.

Private landlords or managing agents

To report a disrepair to your landlord, you can use one of Shelter's letter templates. You can then send the letter by email or post. Remember to always keep a copy for your records.

For an urgent repair, such as a lack of heating or hot water or dangerous electrics, you should contact your landlord or agent immediately by phone and follow the call up with a letter or email.

Housing associations

Housing associations operating as registered social landlord are regulated through their own internal complaints procedure and the Housing Ombudsman.

If you have a disrepair you should do the following:

  • Report the problem to your housing association.
  • Make a formal complaint to them if they fail to respond in an appropriate and timely manner.
  • If they still fail to deal with your complaint, contact us and complain to the Housing Ombudsman.

What happens next

What to expect from your landlord

Landlords should normally attempt to fix serious hazards such as a broken boiler or electricity failure within one to three working days. However, less serious hazards can be repaired over a longer timescale.

Drains and sewers

Drains are the owner's responsibility if they are:

  • within land in the same ownership as the house they serve
  • not shared with anyone else.

Report any issues with these drains to your landlord and keep copies of any correspondence.

What is expected of you

If your landlord agrees to carry out the repairs, it is important that you give them:

  • reasonable access to inspect the property
  • time to find a contractor
  • enough time to start and finish the work.

Your landlord should let you know how long it will take to complete the work.

If your landlord doesn’t carry out the repairs it is important that you do not withhold your rent. If you do, it may result in your landlord applying for possession of the property.

Use our tool below to access help on the most common problems and safety issues in rented accommodation.

Most of the links provided go Shelter's housing issues and homelessness website. They provide comprehensive advice and guidance on landlord responsibilities and how to report your issues.

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