Mention the word ‘landlord’ to some people and it will yield a reaction of dread or intense anger. Stories of landlords from hell are all too common, and while most are genuine and responsible, a small number of landlords ignoring their legal duties have allowed the few to tarnish the name of the many. If you find yourself in a situation whereby a landlord is refusing to carry out repairs that you feel are his or her responsibility, there are steps you can take.
Build a case
If a landlord is flat out refusing to do repairs or is ignoring your repeated requests, it may be that you have to take legal action; but before doing this you will need to build a strong case, which requires the help of a home or flat inventory company.
An inventory report is generally carried out before a tenant moves into a property and after they move out. However, it is possible to have in-depth reports quarterly, yearly, or at the mid-point in a tenancy agreement. By compiling a report, home or flat inventories can show clear evidence of damage and how a property has deteriorated since a previous report.
In addition to this, you should compile your own portfolio of evidence, by taking photographs of required repairs, copies of medical notes showing proof of your health being affected by the problem, receipts for any money spent on trying to fix the problem, and copies of letters sent to a landlord in relation to repairs.
While building a case, you should continually write to your landlord about the issue.
Contact Housing Standards Team
The next step is to contact your local council housing standards team. Housing standards are committed to ensuring all properties within their borough meet acceptable living conditions. Housing standards will ask for details and evidence of disrepair as well as name and contact details of the landlord. They will then arrange to visit the property and inspect the damage. At this time, the landlord will be contacted and given the opportunity to undertake all repairs. If he or she fails to do so, the council may serve statuary notices, followed by court action.
Taking legal action
It may be possible to take your landlord to court where an order can be given for necessary repair works to be carried out and possible compensation paid to you for inconvenience, damage to personal property and health caused by repairs not being done. Before taking this step though, you should be aware that court action can be a long and expensive process and should always be a last resort.
It is essential that you speak to your solicitor or to Citizen’s Advice before making a decision on legal action, and find out if you are eligible for legal aid. The evidence compiled by a home and flat inventory company and yourself will ensure you stand a good chance of winning in court; however, only ever proceed after having received comprehensive legal advice.
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