What Are Your Landlord’s Repair And Maintenance Responsibilities In Social Housing?

or call Legal HD on 0161 974 7350

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What Are Your Landlord’s Repair And Maintenance Responsibilities In Social Housing?

or call Legal HD on 0161 974 7350

Repair and maintenance issues in social housing accommodation can be difficult to address because there are grey areas involved in terms of who is responsible. Unfortunately, where disrepair issues have been reported in social housing, it is quite common for incidents to result in disputes, or at least a landlord attempting to get away without paying for it or confronting their responsibilities.

This article aims to give clear and concise information on what a social housing landlord is responsible for, and what duties the tenant has also.

The responsibilities of a social housing landlord

While the situation is not completely clear cut in terms of who should carry out repairs and maintenance in every circumstance, in general, the main assumption should be that a social housing landlord is ‘usually’ responsible for a repair and maintenance issue. There are exceptions which we will look at later, but we can give clear guidance on the following things a social housing landlord must provide at the beginning of a tenancy and throughout the full duration of the tenancy:

  • Clean accommodation that is habitable
  • Any damage (structural or fixtures and fittings) that occurred prior to the tenancy beginning is fully repaired
  • Safe and operational gas, electrical and plumbing supplies
  • Secure doors, windows and locks

During the tenancy, a social housing landlord must attend to the following:

  • If damage or disrepair is made worse by a landlord’s attempts to repair it, they are fully responsible for completing the repair
  • Any structural disrepair must be addressed as soon as possible
  • If the tenant is prevented from using all or part of the accommodation, they must be provided with alternative temporary accommodation, or a reduction in their rent to cover the inconvenience
  • If problems occur with gas or electrical supply or appliances
  • Repairs involving damp and mould should be addressed as soon as possible and the landlord should also identify the cause of the problem and address it, such as poor or damaged ventilation systems, for example

Local authorities or the housing association in question usually has a repairs and maintenance policy, which should detail exactly what the landlord is responsible for and what you as the tenant are responsible for, and you should ask for a copy of this and retain it for your own reference. This may also be detailed in your individual tenancy agreement, but as a general guide, the landlord is usually responsible for the following repairs and maintenance:

  • External structure – such as roofs, windows and doors
  • Heating systems – gas central heating, gas fires, flues and chimneys
  • Water systems – water supply, pipework, sinks, toilets and baths
  • Drains and guttering
  • Gas pipes and electrical wiring
  • Appliances supplied by the landlord as part of the tenancy (ie. washing machines and cookers)

A tenant’s responsibilities in social housing accommodation

Alongside the landlord’s responsibilities, the tenant also has a duty to look after the accommodation they live in and to keep it clean and safe, so this means they should not be negligent in terms of hygiene and tidiness, and in causing issues which could fester and degenerate into a repair issue. In this case the tenant would be responsible for repairing the damage. The tenant needs to:

  • Repair any accidental damage to structures or fixtures and fittings caused by them or by a visitor
  • Report any such incidents to the landlord as soon as possible
  • Avoid unreasonable behaviour in terms of how fixtures, fittings and appliances are being used, ie. not flushing unsuitable items down the toilet and blocking it, using a washing machine as per the instructions
  • Provide access to the property for any repair work to be carried out. A landlord must give 24 hours notice of repair work, but in emergency situations can gain access if they have tried and failed to contact the tenant
  • Deal with ‘minor’ repair issues, such as changing a fuse in an electrical appliance or changing a lightbulb, for example

The tenant should attempt to maintain good relations and report any repair issue as soon as it occurs, if it can be reasonably proven that they have caused it. Even if a repair issue is the tenant’s responsibility, the landlord may opt to repair it and charge the cost to the tenant, or they may agree to let the tenant fix it at their own cost. The key is there is communication and agreement. If the tenant doesn’t advise the landlord of the repair issue and simply deals with it themselves, this could be contravening the tenancy agreement and could lead to problems for the tenant.

What to do if your social housing landlord is not dealing with a disrepair

If you are confident that your landlord is responsible for dealing with a disrepair issue, and isn’t, you may be able to start a housing disrepair claim, as long as you have:

  • Reported the issue directly to the landlord
  • Given the landlord a reasonable period of time to deal with the issue

Social housing landlords are working to the Decent Homes Standard, which means they must provide rented accommodation which meets a specific standard for hazards, repairs, facilities and thermal comfort. If you feel that your social housing accommodation contravenes this standard as a result of a disrepair issue, then you should contact Legal HD and start a housing disrepair claim today. We can help secure compensation for your health impacts and inconvenience as well as return costs for living with the issue and any damage it has done to your belongings, so contact our team today.

Andrew Dow - Legal HD Co-Founder
Peter Hartley - Legal HD Co-Founder

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Do you believe you have a case to make a housing disrepair claim? If so, contact Legal HD today via the form below or call us on 0161 974 7350 today.

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