When a tenant reports a problem with their home to their landlord, the landlord must complete works with a ‘reasonable time’.

What constitutes a reasonable time will vary depending on the nature of the problem. Landlords will sometimes defend claims for repairs on the basis that they have not yet been given a reasonable time to carry out repairs.

Many landlords set themselves targets detailing how quickly different problems should be dealt with.

Southwark Council, for example, state in the Tenants’ Handbook that they will start emergency repairs within 24 hours and non-urgent repairs within eight weeks. The Handbook provides a list of defects that the Council is responsible for and whether the defect will be treated as emergency or non-urgent. Minor leaks, for example, would be treated as non-urgent whereas loss of heating or hot water would be treated as an emergency.

Similarly, Lambeth Council publish a Repairs Manual that breaks down defects into 5 categories: emergency, urgent, non-urgent, routine and planned. Emergency repairs are defects that are dangerous and the Council states that someone will come and make the property safe within 24 hours. Urgent works will be carried out within 3 working days, non-urgent within 7 working days, routine within 28 working days and planned within 90 working days. An example of what is considered an urgent repair is a toilet that is leaking or not flushing. A leaking bath would be classed as a non-urgent repairs.

These Councils’ examples are not definitive and what constitutes a reasonable time will vary from case to case. If you have reported a problem to your landlord and given them a reasonable time to carry out repairs, you may be able to bring a claim to make your landlord complete the works and pay you compensation.