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Private housing: Improvements and repairs

Landlord responsibilities

Your landlord must keep in good condition and repair:

  • The structure and exterior of the building.
  • Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary installations.
  • Heating and hot water installations.

Your landlord must also ensure that:

  • All gas appliances are maintained in good order.
  • The electrical installation (for example fixed wiring) and any electrical appliances supplied (cookers, kettles, toasters, washing machines and immersion heaters) are safe to use.
  • Any furniture and furnishings he or she supplies meets fire resistance requirements.

The landlord is not generally responsible for:

  • Repairs arising from damage caused by you.
  • Rebuilding the property in the case of damage by fire, flood or other inevitable accident.
  • Repairing anything which you have a right to take away unless, in some circumstance, the damage was caused as a result of the landlord's failure to carry out his or her obligations.

Examples of things that your landlord should put right might include:

  • Leaking roofs
  • Damp
  • Rotten window frames
  • Central heating that is not working.

Repairs regarding other things depend very much on the terms of the agreement between the landlord and the tenant. If a landlord, in doing repairs that he or she is obliged to do, spoils the internal decoration, he or she should make good the damage.

If you are a landlord and want further guidance about the standards your property should meet please contact the Residential Services team who can offer confidential impartial advice.

More about Private renting - Landlord responsibilities.

Tenant responsibilities

As a tenant, you must:

  • Use the property in a responsible way. For example, turn off the water if there is a risk of burst pipes.
  • Do repairs if the terms of your tenancy agreement state so.

What happens if there is no written tenancy agreement?

A verbal agreement is subject to the law on repairs just like a written agreement, and the same provisions will apply.

It is a good idea, though, to get any agreement set out in writing if you can.

Resolving disputes with your landlord

If your landlord is being unreasonable, or ignoring your requests for repair work to be done, you need to keep a record of this.

If you write to your landlord, make sure you keep a copy of the letters you send. If you speak to him or her on the telephone, or in person, then keep a record of the time and date of the conversation and what was said. Do not withhold rent.

What can the Council do?

If your landlord still does not do anything then an option available to you is to complain to the Council on 0191 427 7000 and this complaint will be investigated by the appropriate service. We have powers to inspect the property and tell your landlord what works are required .

If your landlord does not comply, we have the power to carry out the work ourselves and send a bill to your landlord, so long as the property fails to meet the current fitness standard.

Can I take my landlord to court?

Yes. Different types of court action are available and the type of action which is appropriate may depend on the particular type of disrepair you are experiencing. We strongly recommend that you take legal advice before taking court action.

As well as ordering repairs to be carried out, a court might be prepared to award you compensation. If your landlord is a registered social landlord or housing association, then contact the Residential Services team through the Customer Contact Centre on 0191 427 7000.

If you are a South Tyneside Homes tenant and want to report a repair, see South Tyneside Homes: Report a repair.

Threat of eviction

A landlord cannot throw you out simply because you force him to do repairs but if you have an assured short hold tenancy (the common type of tenancy for private sector tenants) then your landlord will be able to evict you when your agreement expires.

If you are not sure what sort of tenancy you have or if you think there may be a problem of this nature then you should seek advice first. Speak to a member of our team on 0191 424 7907 or alternatively, contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Preventing retaliatory eviction for reporting disrepair

If you think there is disrepair in your rented property but are afraid to report it because you think your landlord will ask you to leave the property you may wish to know that the government has changed the law to give you some protection.

If you have written to your landlord and you do not think you have received an adequate reply then then please ring South Tyneside Council Contact Centre (0191 427 7000). We will take your details and the contact details of your landlord.

An officer from the Council will then contact you to arrange to visit to assess the disrepair and if necessary use statutory powers to get the repairs done.

There is more information about this law change at: Shelter - repairs in private rented homes.

Who to speak to 

If you pay a weekly rent your landlord's name and address should be in the rent book, which the landlord has to provide.

If the landlord is a company, you have the right to know the name and address of each of the company directors and the company secretary.

You must ask the landlord, his or her agent or the person who collects the rent for this information in writing. Failure to provide this information is a criminal offence attracting a fine. You can ask the person who receives the rent, or the landlord's agent, in writing, for the landlord's name and address, and you are entitled by law to get that information within 21 days unless there is a reasonable excuse for it not being given.

You may also ask the landlord in writing for the names and addresses of the company directors and secretary, as mentioned above.


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