Water leaks can cause serious damage to properties. You may be experiencing an intermittent water leak or there may have been a flood.
Is your landlord responsible?
Your landlord is most likely to be responsible for remedying the leak, if for instance, it’s coming through cracked roof tiles or from a faulty pipe. Conversely, they may not be, if the leak is caused by your upstairs neighbours splashing water on the floor every time they bathe.
However, even if your landlord is not responsible for stopping the leak, they are likely to be accountable for repairing the effects of the leak, such as damaged wall plaster or replacing your water damaged ceiling.
If you are a tenant, your landlord may be liable for carrying out repairs under your tenancy agreement. Leaseholders may have some protection under their lease. Therefore you should check the terms. In addition, there are also implied terms contained in the legislation, such as section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, which you may be able to rely on.
You must tell your landlord about the problem, as it is likely that your landlord’s obligation to carry out repairs will only arise at this point (i.e. known as putting them on notice). Sometimes where there are external issues, there no requirement for you to give this notice. However, as you may be unable to pinpoint whether there're an internal or external issues, it is sensible to report it.
Your landlord’s contact details may be in your tenancy agreement or you may deal directly with a letting’s agent. Report the issue to both. You can tell them orally or in writing.
They will then have a reasonable time to carry out repairs.
What is a reasonable time?
This is dependent on the facts. For instance, your landlord will be expected to remedy a major flood more quickly than an intermittent drip through your kitchen ceiling.
It is always a good idea to keep a good record of what happens. Generally, your landlord will not keep detailed records of every eventuality that happens on the property. For example, your landlord’s repair records or contact history may be incomplete or have been lost.
You might have to prove your case. Therefore keeping evidence is extremely important. This can be maintained in a variety of ways, such as:
- Keeping a diary of when the leak occurs/ when you report the issue
- Photos or videos are particularly useful as the date/ time are recorded instantly (remember to back these up)
- Saving any letters, appointment slips, emails or texts
- Ordering an itemised mobile/ landline bill, which you can highlight to show when you reported the issues
Fear of eviction sometimes stops tenants from complaining about leaks. However, if your tenancy began after 01 October 2015, the Deregulation Act 2015 provides some additional protection from ‘revenge evictions’. There are particular steps that need to be taken and therefore you should seek advice early on.
What if your landlord fails to carry out repairs or completes insufficient repairs?
Although this is frustrating, you should continue to report the issue. Your landlord should also be given access to inspect and carry out repairs. You should think carefully about stopping your rental payments, as your landlord may start possession proceedings.
We may be able to help you pursue a case to force your landlord to carry out repairs, as we have a wealth of expertise in advising those experiencing such situations and ultimately getting repairs carried out. We may be able to pursue your case under legal aid or we may be able to offer a “No win, No Fee” agreement.