‘Disrepair’ is the opposite of keeping a property in good condition. It means the landlord is allowing problems to develop, and not doing anything about it.
By law, your landlord must make sure that your residence is in a good state of repair. This includes:
- keeping the structure (walls, roof, floors etc) safe and sound.
- making sure the property doesn’t have damp or mould or any problems with vermin (mice, rats) or pests (fleas, cockroaches, etc).
- ensuring that the utilities (heating, electricity, water, gas, etc) are working and safe.
- providing safe and working sanitation (bath or shower and toilet).
- keeping drains clear, etc.
You should tell your landlord about any problems like condensation, leaks, damp, mould, cracks in the walls, no hot water and so on.
It doesn’t matter what your tenancy agreement says or doesn’t say — every landlord must see to these problems, thanks to the law that is called Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act. They can’t charge you for it: they must pay for keeping your building in repair themselves.
If you started your tenancy on or after 15 January 1989, the law also includes common parts like halls, stairs and lifts.
In Scotland, social landlords (including local authorities and registered social landlords) are subject to duties under schedule 4 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001. The primary duty is ensure that the house is, at the commencement of the tenancy, wind and watertight, and ‘in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation’ and to keep it in that condition throughout the tenancy. This duty is further explained here.
Under the Scottish legislation, “repair” means anything that is necessary to put and maintain the house in a condition fit for the purpose for which it was let, which is human habitation. That includes providing a house which, by its design and construction, meets the statutory standard.
What to do if your landlord isn’t doing this
See our page on ‘my landlord isn’t making repairs‘.
Examples of how residents across various London estates organised to solve the problem of cockroaches – permanently. In some cases the benefits went beyond mere pest control and even brought new paid work to the residents.
Tools you can use
Tips and letter templates to help you communicate with your landlord when there’s something wrong, or you want to find out more.
What does ‘fitness for human habitation’ mean? It’s the name of a law that protects tenants from having to live in properties that are unsafe or unhealthy.
Your landlord should be keeping your tower block, and your flat, in good repair.
If they do not, there are several things you can do.
What should you do if water is coming in through the edges of your windows? It can be a problem with the window frames or it might point to structural issues with your block.
No-one wants to live with cockroaches, fleas or vermin. But getting rid of them may require a whole-tower block effort, not treating each flat individually.
Condensation is a common problem in tower blocks, and it can add to issues with mould or damp.
Damp and mould do more than ruin the look of your flat: they can also cause health problems. It is your landlord’s responsibility under law to ensure that your home is safe to live in.