Tenants renting a property (or a room in a shared property), have the legal right to live in a property that is safe and in a good state of repair
All private rented properties in England and Wales, must meet the minimum legal health and safety standards, as well as complying with gas, fire and electrical safety regulations.
The property must be safe and free from health and safety hazards, such as:
- damp, condensation or mould
- inadequate water supply, including no hot water
- broken windows
- blocked or leaking gutters, drainpipes and sewers or a leaking roof
- Pests or vermina
- faulty electrics
- non-serviced gas appliances or appliances that have not been serviced or maintained in a while.
Landlords have the responsibility to:
- Make sure that all gas appliances provided in the property are safe to use. The landlord should arrange for all gas appliances to be checked every year by a registered engineer who is qualified to work legally on gas appliances and must give you a copy of a gas safety record before tenants move in to the property and within 28 days of each annual inspection;
- Make sure that any electric appliances provided in the property and any wiring, are safe to use when tenant’s move in and throughout the tenancy;
- Comply with fire safety requirements, which includes providing smoke detectors, and in some properties, carbon monoxide alarms. Landlords of houses in multiple occupation (HMO) have to comply with extra fire safety laws; and
- Make sure that any furniture and appliances supplied by the landlord are safe and fit to use.
Tenant’s have the responsibility to:
- Report any safety or repair concerns to the landlord as soon as possible Keep the property in adequate condition to avoid making a condition worse or creating hazards or health and safety problems.
- Continue paying rent while waiting for repairs to be done and even when repairs are not been carried out. Withholding rent puts tenant’s at risk of legal proceedings being made against them and the risk of being evicted for non-payment of rent.
Once you have reported a problem or concern, your landlord has the responsibility to carry out most repairs within a reasonable amount of time.
If your landlord refuses to deal with any problems or concerns that put or can potentially put, your health and safety at risk, you can complain to your local council’s environmental health team.
Environmental health can then do an assessment on your home to check for any hazards. If hazards or health and safety concerns are identified by the council, it can take enforcement action against your landlord. In some cases, the council can arrange for the repair work to be done and then recover the cost from your landlord.
Unfortunately, there are landlords who, instead of carrying out repairs, prefer to evict tenants who ask for repairs or complain about poor conditions. This is known as a ‘revenge eviction’.
If you ever find yourself in this situation and you are an assured shorthold tenant, then you may be protected under law against such an eviction, depending on what action the council decides to take.