Nick Whittingham writes: In Kirklees, around one in three people live in rented accommodation, and it can be difficult to understand who is responsible for repairs or damage, or what the process is if you feel like nothing is being fixed.
Below is an example of a situation you may be in:
“I’ve been living in my privately rented flat for years. I generally have a good relationship with my landlord but I just can’t get them to carry out various repairs that have built up. How can I get them to act – and what exactly do they have to do?”
This must be a very frustrating situation. The law states that your landlord must provide accommodation that is safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm.
You don’t need to say exactly what repairs are needed. If you have problems such as electrical wiring that you think might be faulty, or there’s damp, or an infestation by pests, the landlord has a legal obligation to put things right and there may be other issues that are causing these problems that is also their responsibility to put right.
Landlords are also responsible for the maintenance of the general structure of your rented home, and fittings such as the plasterwork, boilers and radiators; basins, baths and toilets; and the drains.
The first step is to contact your landlord with details of the problem, and pictures if you can send them.
If this does not prompt any action, the next step is to contact your landlord again, in writing to ensure a record is retained of your contact (this can be by text or other social media such as WhatsApp).
Include photographs of the problems (the same photos as the first time, or perhaps updated ones if the situation has gotten worse). Keep a record of all communications and evidence relating to the disrepair, be these through the post, email, text messages, social media and calls.
If that doesn’t prompt any action, the specialist housing advisors here at Kirklees Citizens Advice and Law Centre can help with the next steps.
They will engage the Pre-Action Protocol for Housing Conditions Claims to arrange any urgent repairs.
They can also refer your case to the local council environmental health team (who will have dedicated officers for dealing with disrepair in private rented properties).
In serious disrepair cases, it may be necessary to obtain a court injunction to compel a landlord to complete works.
Our specialist housing advisors can also assist with other tenancy related issues such as unlawful eviction (where your landlord has evicted you without a court order), harassment from your landlord, possession notices/proceedings and homelessness.
Cases can be funded privately or through the Legal Aid Agency.
If you are in receipt of a DWP benefit (such as Universal Credit/Employment Support Allowance) it is likely you will not have to pay for our advice as the Legal Aid Agency will fund your case.
If you would like to speak to us, you can call us on 0808 278 7896, or see our website at http://www.kcalc.org.uk.
By Kirklees Citizens Advice & Law Centre chief executive Nick Whittingham.