Your landlord is obliged by law to keep your property in repair (the specific rules are discussed here), but the law is not always straightforward. Here are some points you may not have realised:
1. Repairs but not improvements
Under his repairing obligations your landlord must keep your property in repair (as set out in the act), but he cannot be forced to improve things.
So for example if you go to court, you may be entitled to an order that your Landlord repair the broken window frames. However you are not entitled to an order that he instal double glazing – thats an improvement.
Unless you already have double glazing. In which case he can be ordered to get it repaired if necessary.
2. Local Authority powers
Your landlord CAN be ordered to carry out improvement work if the property fails to meet standards (specifically if an inspection shows that it has what are called Category 1 hazards) by your Local Authority Environmental Health department.
However only the Local Authority can serve an improvement notice. Not you.
3. Permission is needed for access to do repairs
Your landlord has to have your permission to enter your property to carry out repairs.
But if you refuse to let him in, you cannot them blame him (and more specifically claim any compensation – or at least not very much) from him for any problems you suffer because of the disrepair.
Because it will be YOUR fault that the repair work did not get done!
4. The tenants right of set off
If your landlord fails to do repair work which he is supposed to do under law, after you have asked him to do it, you are legally entitled to get the repair work done yourself and deduct the cost from your rent. This is called the tenants right of set off.
However, you have to be careful and follow the proper procedure.
5. The problem of retaliatory eviction
Unfortunately sometimes if landlords are asked by tenants to carry out essential repairs, they will respond by serving a section 21 notice on the ‘troublemakers’, forcing them to leave. This is known in the business as ‘retaliatory eviction’.
There is nothing that can be done about this. It’s a big problem for tenants, and prevents many people from trying to enforce their rights.
The CAB wrote a well received paper on the subject a few years ago called The Tenants Dilemma.
Have you come across any of these five situations in action?
See more help for tenants on Landlord Law.