Jennie wants a swap but I don’t think anyone will take it.  Would you want to rent a flat like this?

“Each room lovingly decorated but unfortunately mould seems to prevail every month or so. Also fighting a losing battle with rising damp which apparently causes no concern to landlord. Amazing view of local incinerator that provides a divine aroma when opening your windows every day. Double glazing has split on a few windows so lovely condensation look complements your viewing pleasure. Have asked landlord numerous times defects, just awaiting housing officer to get back to me. And that was in March.

Looking for an amazing three bed house only. No time wasters.”

Many people have Jennie’s problem; a housing association, the council or a private landlord who will not fix damp, leaks, rising damp or who will not carry out repairs.

If no-one swaps and the landlord doesn’t fix the flat can she do anything to sort out the problems?   

What can I do if my landlord does not carry out repairs?

Everyone renting has a tenancy agreement.  Even if it’s just conversation where you agree to pay £500 a month and the landlords lets you have the flat, then that’s a tenancy agreement.  Then the law – specifically Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985, - says that the landlord must fix the flat or house and the building, the plumbing (including the toilet, bath, sink) and the heating and hot water.  They also have to repair the electrics and supply of gas and water.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a written tenancy or you’ve lost it.  You’ve got this repairing right (unless you moved in back in before 1962).

Does my landlord have to fix damp?  Do they have to fix the windows?  

Jennie’s flat is suffering from rising damp.  Under her tenancy agreement the landlord will have to fix the rising damp and the damage it’s caused.  The landlord needs to be told about the problem and then has a reasonable time to fix it.  If they don’t they have broken the agreement, same as if you didn’t pay rent.  Of course if they knew about it already, e.g. the problem was visible before the tenancy, they should have fixed it before.  

The flat also has blown double-glazing which is all steamed up.  The law says that the landlord has to fix that too 

How long does my landlord have to make repairs?

The landlord has a reasonable time to fix problems.  If it’s an urgent problem they are expected to deal with it urgently – e.g. no working toilet or no electricity.  If the work needed is difficult or complicated they get longer, to investigate what is needed, to get quotes, plan the work and to do it.  

Jennie’s double glazing is not urgent but it’s also not a difficult job.  They’ll need to see if it can be fixed or replaced; maybe 6 months to fix it.  But it’s already been close on 5 months and nothing has been done.  That’s a breach of the tenancy agreement.

What about fixing the rising damp?  I don’t know when Jennie reported the problem but it’s more complicated so the landlord gets more time.  More time to investigate, more time to get quotes and more time to do the work.  But it’s also more urgent to fix the problem.  Rising damp is more disruptive and causes more problems than steamed up double glazing.  So, although it is more complicate they certainly should have fixed it or be well on the way to fixing it within 6 months.  The landlord’s done nothing so they have broken the agreement. 

Can I force my landlord to make repairs?

So, Jennie’s landlord should be fixing the problems and they are not.  That’s a breach of the tenancy agreement, same as Jennie not paying the rent. But what to do?  

Well, what would your landlord do if you didn’t pay the rent?  They would take you to court.  You can and should do the same.  Make sure you keep paying your rent though, as if you don’t it can cause you problems later.

But who will help me do this?  

What Jennie really needs if the landlord isn't bothering to fix the property is a solicitor who will be able to advise her and make the landlord take action. This is what I and my team at Anthony Gold specialise in.  You can read about some of our cases herehere and here.

I am a solicitor and I specialise in making landlords do repairs that they are not bothering to do.  Sometimes the threat of court action is enough.  At other times we have to serve legal papers on them before they do it.  We sometimes even need to take them before a judge.  But in most cases the works/ repairs are completed, redecorations are done and compensation is paid too.  

Legal Aid Housing Advice

Funding can be a problem for these cases. However, legal aid is still available if repairs are needed to prevent a serious risk of harm to health.  You can read about the harm to your health that damp and mould causes here. Legal aid is not available for compensation claims and once the risk of harm to health is gone funding stops, even though the repairs may still not all be done.  Anthony Gold Solicitors give free legal advice on repairs cases under the Legal Aid scheme.

What about No Win No Fee Housing Solicitors

There are not many specialist housing solicitors doing repairs cases like Anthony Gold who offer no-win, no-fee advice for repairs cases.