What is Disrepair in Rental Homes?
By |Published On: 3rd March 2015|

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What is Disrepair in Rental Homes?

By |Published On: 3rd March 2015|

This article is an external press release originally published on the Landlord News website, which has now been migrated to the Just Landlords blog.

Disrepair and poor housing conditions can cause health and safety problems for tenants. Housing charity Shelter has put together some definitions to determine what counts as disrepair.

Shelter’s key tips for tenants

  • Agree a thorough inventory with photographs before moving in.
  • Put repair requests in writing to your landlord.

Homes in disrepair

The most common disrepair issues in rental properties are highlighted by Shelter as:

  • Damp and mould
  • Blocked drains
  • Leaking pipes and blocked toilets
  • Roof leaks
  • Electrical hazards
What is Disrepair in Rental Homes?

What is Disrepair in Rental Homes?

The legal definition of disrepair is if there is damage that needs to be put right. For example, a broken window will need repairing.

However, there may be something in the property that is not broken, but doesn’t work as well as it could. For example, a window that’s draughty. This does not count as disrepair and a landlord would not have to fix it.

You can read more about safety standards in rental homes here.

Who is responsible for repairs?

Landlords are responsible for ensuring that the follow are kept in good repair:

  • The structure and exterior of the property
  • Water, gas, electricity and sanitation systems
  • Heating and hot water systems
  • Safe electrical wiring
  • Appliances included as part of the tenancy agreement, for example, washing machines

Tenants are responsible for minor maintenance, such as replacing light bulbs and checking smoke alarms, and for any other appliances they bring to the property.

You can find out more about responsibilities for repair in the private rental sector and social sector homes here.

If a landlord doesn’t do repair work

Sometimes, tenants and landlords may not agree that repair work is disrepair. Some landlords may take a long time to complete work. Some may argue that no repairs are needed, or that the tenant should pay for them.

Find out here what to do if you need repairs in your rental property, or in a council or housing association home.

Repair and safety standards in rental property

Tenants have the right to their home being fit to live in. If renters live in a council or housing association property, their home should meet the Decent Homes Standard. The aim of this is to ensure that homes are:

  • Warm
  • Energy efficient
  • Safe to live in
  • Do not cause harm or illness to the occupiers

If tenants rent privately, this standard does not apply, however, there are still legal minimum requirements that apply to the property.

You can discover more about housing conditions in private rental homes here.

Tenants have the right to live in a home that is safe and in a good state of repair. All tenants have repair rights, regardless of who their landlord is. However, different actions can be taken regarding disrepair, depending on whether a tenant lives in the private rental sector or in social housing.

If a rental home is dangerous

Landlords should be contacted immediately if the tenant believes the disrepair in their home is dangerous, or if there is dangerous or faulty wiring.

If you smell gas, call the National Gas emergency number on 0800 111 999.



About the Author: Em Morley (she/they)

Em is the Content Marketing Manager for Just Landlords, with over five years of experience writing for insurance and property websites. Together with the knowledge and expertise of the Just Landlords underwriting team, Em aims to provide those in the property industry with helpful resources. When she’s not at her computer researching and writing property and insurance guides, you’ll find her exploring the British countryside, searching for geocaches.

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