Repairs and maintenance

3 min read

You should always report disrepair to your landlord/managing agent. You can find advice and a template letter to help you do this on the Shelter website.

If you have contacted your landlord about a problem or hazard in your home and they have done nothing about it, we may be able to help. You could also contact ShelterCitizens Advice or the Deposit Guarantee Scheme if you use the service. You should never stop paying your rent as a protest.

Damp and mould
Dampness can occur in homes for many reasons. It can lead to mould and mites, problems keeping your home warm and damage to the building.
 Condensation and mould are widespread concerns throughout the country. As a tenant, it is important that you follow the damp and mould guidance on avoiding condensation in the home and dealing with damp and mould if it does occur, and to report any defects to your landlord as soon as you notice.

You can also watch this information on condensation and mould growth video, produced by the NLA.
If you suspect there are hazards in your property, Contact the HMO team and we will be in touch within five working days – sooner in an emergency. We might visit you to assess the problem.

Please include in your email:
  • detail of the disrepair
  • photos of the disrepair
  • the full address of the property

  • We use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System to assess hazards in your home. Hazards are identified as either serious (category 1) or less serious (category 2). Shelter offer details on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

    You can also call 0118 937 3783 to report a hazard.
    Asbestos is a hazardous natural mineral fibre. Because its fibres are strong and resistant to heat it has been used in a wide range or buildings and products, often for fireproofing. Properties built after the mid 1980s are unlikely to contain asbestos.

    If asbestos is not damaged, it is unlikely to need removed. If you are planning improvements to your home, you should inform contractors of the suspected or actual presence of asbestos.

    The property owner is responsible for the safe disposal of asbestos.

    Please refer to Health and Safety Executive guidance on asbestos for more detailed information.
    Dirty and infested property
    We have powers to deal with properties that are deemed to be filthy or verminous, or both, under the Public Health Act 1936.

    We will inspect the property.

    To be considered filthy the conditions need to be fairly extreme. This could include accumulations of faeces or food waste in the property or garden.

    If officers decide that the property is in a filthy or verminous condition then we will be able to serve a notice on the owner/occupier. They are then required to take steps to clean it up. If the work is not carried out, we may carry out the work and recover the costs of doing so from the owner/occupier.
    Lead pipes
    Lead in drinking water is not usually a problem in our area as the hard water tends to produce a protective layer of limescale between the water and the pipes.

    In properties built before the late 1970s lead pipes were often used to bring water from the mains in the street to the property. If your property was built after the late 1970s or has been modernised since, then the connecting pipes will probably be made of copper or plastic.

    More information about lead pipes is available on the Thames Water website.
    Utility disconnections
    If you do not pay a utility bill within 28 days from the date of the bill, you risk getting disconnected. Some suppliers may start to take action earlier.

    Your fuel supplier cannot cut you off without sending you a disconnection notice first.

    If you cannot pay your bill, contact your supplier straight away. You should be offered an arrangement to pay off the arrears at a rate you can afford. If you cannot afford to pay off the arrears in this way and you want to keep your gas or electricity supply, you may have to accept the instalment of a prepayment meter.

    A prepayment meter will allow you to pay a fixed amount off your arrears at the same time as paying for the fuel you’re currently using. If you do get a disconnection notice, you should contact Consumer Direct on 0845 4040506.

    Some groups of people may have extra protection from being disconnected. Customers who:
  • are of pensionable age
  • have long-term ill health
  • are disabled
  • have severe financial problems

  • Tell your fuel supplier if you fall into one of these groups.
    Structural damage
    Structural damage includes cracks in the walls or ceiling inside the property, or damage to roof tiles. This kind of damage can lead to issues of cold and damp in the property, so it is important to repair it as soon as possible after the damage is identified.

    This video contains information on structural damage and what might cause it.

    Inspecting your property: what to expect
    All councils have legal powers to ensure that rented accommodation is suitable to live in and that there are minimal risks to the health and safety of tenants and visitors. This means we have to carry out inspections – either in reaction to a request or complaint, or as part of our statutory duty to ensure that properties are in line with a particular standard.

    The inspection
    Officers from Environmental Health will carry out investigations and inspections. The inspectors will always carry an identification card with a photograph. They have the right to enter and inspect rented property at all reasonable hours, as long as we have given 24 hours notice. On some occasions we do not have to make an appointment and may come without advance notice.

    Officers should:
  • have a courteous manner and show identification
  • give feedback from any inspection such as information about defects and guidance on how the property should be improved
  • make a clear distinction between what is recommended as good practice and what is required by law, and state any laws that are being broken
  • give reasons in writing for any action you are asked to take
  • give reasonable time to carry out any necessary actions
  • give details of how you can complain about the council action

  • The officers will assess the property for a broad range of hazards that could affect the health and safety of occupants. The system they use is called the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). Officers are impartial and the purpose of the inspection is to identify potential hazards.

    We will try to work with landlords to make sure the work undertaken meets legal requirements and standards. However, if a property is hazardous or in a poor condition that doesn’t meet minimum standards, or when landlords have failed to keep on top of the repairs and maintenance, we may serve legal notices requiring improvement or remedial works.
    Last updated on 04/06/2024