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Dealing with Disrepair

If you rent your property, your landlord is usually responsible for any repairs or maintenance work that needs to be done within your home. It is important to contact your landlord at the first signs of any problems in order for him to deal with them, as delaying it could mean that you are responsible if the problem becomes worse. Ideally you should put the problems in writing, as this clearly outlines the problem to the landlord so there is no misunderstanding but it also provides proof if the repair goes unresolved for some time and you need to take it further. When your home ends up in a state of disrepair, due to damp, rot or leaks for example, it can be both frustrating and upsetting for you and in some cases cause health problems.

Depending on what the problem is, you should be able to remain in your home, but you could end up needing to move out temporarily while work takes place. The first thing you need to do is speak with your landlord and confirm the timescale for any repair work as well as working out what access is needed for repairs to be carried out. You may need to speak directly with workman in order to make arrangements for access or alternative arrangements if water or electricity needs to be switched off for a short time. If it causes a lot of disruption, you could speak to your landlord to arrange a reduction in rent or a period of rent free time, particularly if you have to leave your home due to repairs.

If you have to leave, you may also be entitled to compensation. You can get advice from your local council or speak to a solicitor about your rights. As a tenant you have a responsibility to give your landlord access to your home to carry out any repairs but he should also give you reasonable notice, so you can prepare for it. Find out how long it is expected to take, and check with your landlord if you have any concerns at all. If he is refusing to carry out repairs, then you can get advice from Housing Standards who can order him to repair anything that is considered unsafe or even dangerous.

Even if your landlord asks you to leave while repairs are being carried out, you are entitled to stay within your home without too much disruption, although you need to bear in mind that repairs may take longer while you are still living in the property. Unfortunately you are not usually able to be rehoused whilst repairs are being done and unless you have agreed otherwise, you are still obliged to pay rent. However if part of your home is unusable do to repairs, then you can arrange a rent abatement where the rent is adjusted to take into account the amount of space you are able to use or have access to. If you have difficulty negotiating with your landlord, then you can get advice and in some cases a mediator to help resolve issues.

by Cormac Henderson

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