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Disrepair - what is it?

Disrepair is when your home is in need of repair. Landlords often deal with repair problems as soon as they become aware of them, but some do not, which creates problems for tenants.

This page explains what is meant by disrepair and what condition your home should be in when you first move in.

What's meant by disrepair?

Disrepair is when some part of your home is in a worse condition than it was at some earlier point in time, for example, when you moved in. The disrepair must have come about because your landlord hasnít done the repair work that they are responsible for.

A repair is generally different from an improvement. For example, replacing an older gas boiler that is not broken, with a new, more energy efficient boiler, would be an improvement rather than a repair.

In some cases, poor housing conditions are caused by the bad design of a building. For example, poor insulation, a lack of ventilation and inadequate heating can cause condensation and dampness. If a problem is caused by a design defect then it may not count as disrepair.

Sometimes, whether something is disrepair or not, will depend on the circumstances of the case.

How to report repairs

If you rent your home from a private or social housing landlord, they're responsible for dealing with most repair problems. However, it's up to you to tell your landlord about repairs because in most cases, they aren't responsible for the work until they know about it.

If your landlord doesnít do anything, having proof of reporting the problem is important if you want to take further action.

Tips on reporting repairs

  • Report repairs as soon as you notice them even if they're minor.
  • If you report a repair in person or by phone, follow it up in writing and keep a copy of your letter or email.
  • You have to let your landlord or their contractor in to do the repair work, but you should get at least 24 hours' notice Ė except in an emergency.

What are the landlord's responsibilities?

What if your landlord doesnít do anything about the repairs?

If your landlord doesn't do anything after you report the repair, you may decide to take other action. There are several options open to you, some of which are different depending on whether you have a private landlord or a social housing landlord.

If you rent your home from a private or social housing landlord, they're responsible for dealing with most repair problems.

This page explains how the landlord's duty to do repairs comes from the tenancy agreement and other areas of law.

The tenancy agreement

Your tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord. You both have certain rights and responsibilities under that contract.

Express terms on repairs in your tenancy agreement

If you have a written tenancy agreement, it may set out the landlord's obligations to do repairs, this type of term is called an express term. If you donít have a written tenancy agreement, whatever you and your landlord have agreed orally will apply, although sometimes this can be difficult to prove.

Your landlord can't include an express term in your tenancy agreement that would reduce their legal obligations or pass on any of their responsibilities to you. For example, a term that said you were responsible for repairs to the roof wouldn't have any force in law because roof repairs are your landlordís responsibility.

Implied terms on repairs in your tenancy agreement

An implied term is a term that can be read into a tenancy agreement even though it hasn't been stated.

The law, that is, section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, implies a term into your tenancy agreement. It's the most important of your landlord's obligations to carry out basic repairs. The implied term applies whether your tenancy agreement is in writing or has been agreed orally.

What does section 11 cover?

Generally, it means that your landlord is responsible for keeping in repair:

  • the structure and exterior of your home, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors
  • basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
  • water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.

These repair responsibilities can't be cancelled out by anything your tenancy agreement says. Also, your landlord isn't allowed to pass on the cost of any repair work to you which is their responsibility.

Common parts

For tenancies that began on or after 15 January 1989, these repair responsibilities extend to the common parts of a building too, for example, entrance halls, stairs and lifts.

Responsibilities for common parts where a tenancy began before this date are not set out in law, but landlords still have responsibilities under the common law. Common law is law that is developed by judges over many years through the decisions of courts.

Telling your landlord about the repairs

Your landlord's responsibility under section 11 is dependent on them knowing about the repair. In most cases, this will be by you telling them about it.

As well as the repair responsibilities that come from your tenancy agreement, your landlord has obligations that come from other areas of the law.

Negligence

Negligence is generally about your landlord not causing you injury or damage as a result of their careless or negligent behaviour.

For example, your landlord may be negligent if they didnít do the repair work needed in your home after you told them about it, and as a result you injured yourself or your belongings were damaged. They could also be negligent if they did do the repair work, but did it carelessly or dangerously.

Private nuisance

A private nuisance happens when something in another property or in a common part of a building which is owned by your landlord, affects the use and enjoyment of your home. For example, if your landlord didn't maintain pipes in the roof space of your block of flats and water leaked into your home causing damage. In this instance, you could take action against the landlord based on nuisance.

Statutory nuisance

Your landlord mustn't cause a statutory nuisance. A statutory nuisance happens when your home is in such a state as to be harmful to your health or is a nuisance.

Disrepair that's harmful to your health could include dampness and mould growth.

Local authorities generally take action against landlords where there's a statutory nuisance.

The Defective Premises Act 1972

Your landlord owes you certain duties of care that are set out in this Act. They include a duty to prevent personal injury or damage to property caused by defects in your home. This duty is owed to you, members of your family, and also to visitors to your home.

The duty is owed where your landlord is under an obligation to repair or maintain your home, or has a right to enter the property to carry out maintenance or repairs.

The duty is owed if the landlord knows or ought to have known about the repair, even if you haven't told your landlord.

How long will it take to do the work?

How quickly repair work will take depends on what repairs are needed. The law doesn't give any specified time limits, but the work should be done within a Ďreasonableí time. Certain repairs, such as a burst pipe, should be dealt with as an emergency.

You should check your tenancy agreement or tenantsí handbook if you have one. These may outline timescales for repair work.

Landlords may do temporary repairs until the problem can be resolved more fully.

Keeping evidence about repairs

Keeping evidence about the repairs will always be useful. This includes:

  • keeping a record of any conversations you have with your landlord, the date you spoke to them and anything they agreed to do
  • keeping copies of any letters or emails you sent to, and received from, your landlord or their agent
  • taking and dating photographs of the repair, particularly if the problem gets worse over time
  • keeping any belongings or taking photographs of belongings that have been damaged because of the repair problem. For example, clothes or furnishings damaged by mould. Make a note of how much they cost you or keep receipts if you have to buy new things to replace them
  • keeping a note of any medical visits if you are injured or made ill by the repair problem
  • any expert evidence you may have, for example, reports from a surveyor or an Environmental Health Officer.

If you believe you qualify to make a claim, contact us today for us to assess the merits of your case on 01633 262848.

Our Services

Disrepair - what is it?

Disrepair is when your home is in need of repair. Landlords often deal with repair problems as soon as they become aware of them, but some do not, which creates problems for tenants.

This page explains what is meant by disrepair and what condition your home should be in when you first move in.

What's meant by disrepair?

Disrepair is when some part of your home is in a worse condition than it was at some earlier point in time, for example, when you moved in. The disrepair must have come about because your landlord hasnít done the repair work that they are responsible for.

A repair is generally different from an improvement. For example, replacing an older gas boiler that is not broken, with a new, more energy efficient boiler, would be an improvement rather than a repair.

In some cases, poor housing conditions are caused by the bad design of a building. For example, poor insulation, a lack of ventilation and inadequate heating can cause condensation and dampness. If a problem is caused by a design defect then it may not count as disrepair.

Sometimes, whether something is disrepair or not, will depend on the circumstances of the case.

How to report repairs

If you rent your home from a private or social housing landlord, they're responsible for dealing with most repair problems. However, it's up to you to tell your landlord about repairs because in most cases, they aren't responsible for the work until they know about it.

If your landlord doesnít do anything, having proof of reporting the problem is important if you want to take further action.

Tips on reporting repairs

  • Report repairs as soon as you notice them even if they're minor.
  • If you report a repair in person or by phone, follow it up in writing and keep a copy of your letter or email.
  • You have to let your landlord or their contractor in to do the repair work, but you should get at least 24 hours' notice Ė except in an emergency.

What are the landlord's responsibilities?

What if your landlord doesnít do anything about the repairs?

If your landlord doesn't do anything after you report the repair, you may decide to take other action. There are several options open to you, some of which are different depending on whether you have a private landlord or a social housing landlord.

If you rent your home from a private or social housing landlord, they're responsible for dealing with most repair problems.

This page explains how the landlord's duty to do repairs comes from the tenancy agreement and other areas of law.

The tenancy agreement

Your tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord. You both have certain rights and responsibilities under that contract.

Express terms on repairs in your tenancy agreement

If you have a written tenancy agreement, it may set out the landlord's obligations to do repairs, this type of term is called an express term. If you donít have a written tenancy agreement, whatever you and your landlord have agreed orally will apply, although sometimes this can be difficult to prove.

Your landlord can't include an express term in your tenancy agreement that would reduce their legal obligations or pass on any of their responsibilities to you. For example, a term that said you were responsible for repairs to the roof wouldn't have any force in law because roof repairs are your landlordís responsibility.

Implied terms on repairs in your tenancy agreement

An implied term is a term that can be read into a tenancy agreement even though it hasn't been stated.

The law, that is, section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, implies a term into your tenancy agreement. It's the most important of your landlord's obligations to carry out basic repairs. The implied term applies whether your tenancy agreement is in writing or has been agreed orally.

What does section 11 cover?

Generally, it means that your landlord is responsible for keeping in repair:

  • the structure and exterior of your home, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors
  • basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework
  • water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.

These repair responsibilities can't be cancelled out by anything your tenancy agreement says. Also, your landlord isn't allowed to pass on the cost of any repair work to you which is their responsibility.

Common parts

For tenancies that began on or after 15 January 1989, these repair responsibilities extend to the common parts of a building too, for example, entrance halls, stairs and lifts.

Responsibilities for common parts where a tenancy began before this date are not set out in law, but landlords still have responsibilities under the common law. Common law is law that is developed by judges over many years through the decisions of courts.

Telling your landlord about the repairs

Your landlord's responsibility under section 11 is dependent on them knowing about the repair. In most cases, this will be by you telling them about it.

As well as the repair responsibilities that come from your tenancy agreement, your landlord has obligations that come from other areas of the law.

Negligence

Negligence is generally about your landlord not causing you injury or damage as a result of their careless or negligent behaviour.

For example, your landlord may be negligent if they didnít do the repair work needed in your home after you told them about it, and as a result you injured yourself or your belongings were damaged. They could also be negligent if they did do the repair work, but did it carelessly or dangerously.

Private nuisance

A private nuisance happens when something in another property or in a common part of a building which is owned by your landlord, affects the use and enjoyment of your home. For example, if your landlord didn't maintain pipes in the roof space of your block of flats and water leaked into your home causing damage. In this instance, you could take action against the landlord based on nuisance.

Statutory nuisance

Your landlord mustn't cause a statutory nuisance. A statutory nuisance happens when your home is in such a state as to be harmful to your health or is a nuisance.

Disrepair that's harmful to your health could include dampness and mould growth.

Local authorities generally take action against landlords where there's a statutory nuisance.

The Defective Premises Act 1972

Your landlord owes you certain duties of care that are set out in this Act. They include a duty to prevent personal injury or damage to property caused by defects in your home. This duty is owed to you, members of your family, and also to visitors to your home.

The duty is owed where your landlord is under an obligation to repair or maintain your home, or has a right to enter the property to carry out maintenance or repairs.

The duty is owed if the landlord knows or ought to have known about the repair, even if you haven't told your landlord.

How long will it take to do the work?

How quickly repair work will take depends on what repairs are needed. The law doesn't give any specified time limits, but the work should be done within a Ďreasonableí time. Certain repairs, such as a burst pipe, should be dealt with as an emergency.

You should check your tenancy agreement or tenantsí handbook if you have one. These may outline timescales for repair work.

Landlords may do temporary repairs until the problem can be resolved more fully.

Keeping evidence about repairs

Keeping evidence about the repairs will always be useful. This includes:

  • keeping a record of any conversations you have with your landlord, the date you spoke to them and anything they agreed to do
  • keeping copies of any letters or emails you sent to, and received from, your landlord or their agent
  • taking and dating photographs of the repair, particularly if the problem gets worse over time
  • keeping any belongings or taking photographs of belongings that have been damaged because of the repair problem. For example, clothes or furnishings damaged by mould. Make a note of how much they cost you or keep receipts if you have to buy new things to replace them
  • keeping a note of any medical visits if you are injured or made ill by the repair problem
  • any expert evidence you may have, for example, reports from a surveyor or an Environmental Health Officer.

If you believe you qualify to make a claim, contact us today for us to assess the merits of your case on 01633 262848.

At Collingbourne Hennah Law we have a specialist team who deal with the following areas of law:

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