Tenant complaints

Does the home you rent in East Staffordshire need repairs?

Most landlords act in a responsible way and keep their properties in good condition. However a landlord will sometimes fail to carry out necessary repairs or maintenance and the property may fall into a state of disrepair.

I am a tenant and there are some problems with my house. What can I do?

Normally, your landlord is legally responsible for repairs to the structure of the building: the roof, windows, doors, drains, gutters, baths, sinks, toilets, heating, hot water, damp and general building repairs.

  • You must do minor jobs yourself, like replacing fuses, or clearing a blocked sink.
  • An infestation of insects, mice or rats etc may be your responsibility or the landlord's responsibility depending on the cause and if your tenancy/licence agreement defines responsibility
  • You must also repair damage that you or your visitors have caused. Check your tenancy agreement to see whether it requires you to notify the landlord.

I have asked the landlord (or their agent) to do repairs for which they are responsible and they have not done them. What can I do?

You do not have the right to withhold rent because of disrepair so you need to keep paying the rent in full.

If you fail to pay the rent and then become homeless the Council is likely to conclude that you are homeless intentionally.

The Council encourages you to take action, but before you do you need to be aware that a private landlord might respond by serving notice to end your tenancy - what is called retaliatory eviction - or by increasing the rent.

The landlord must follow the appropriate legal procedure to do this, but after a fixed term tenancy has ended they can give you 2 months notice to leave without giving you a reason or (subject to the tenancy agreement) give you 1 months notice of increasing the rent.

One approach to encourage the landlord to act might be to say in your reminder letter to them that you do not want to have to complain to the Council, but even this carries a risk. If your landlord tells you to leave without 2 months notice see eviction and harassment.

If your landlord has failed to respond or do repairs within a reasonable time despite you reminding them, you can:

  • Make a complaint to our Housing Standards team asking us to investigate whether there are any health and safety hazards in the property
  • Get help from a solicitor or specialist legal mediation company. They can mediate between you and the landlord and help you to sue the landlord in court. The court can award damages and order repairs to be done. You will need evidence of the disrepair, your contacts with the landlord, and their failure to carry out the repairs.
  • Find somewhere else to live and then give notice to end your tenancy. However you cannot end your tenancy during a fixed term unless the landlord agrees

What does the Council do when it investigates a complaint about housing?

If you ask us to investigate we will need to visit and carry out a housing health and safety inspection of the property.

If we believe there may be an imminent risk of serious injury we will normally visit within 1 working day (9am - 5pm Monday-Friday). In most cases we aim to visit within 5 or 15 working days, depending upon the nature of the reported disrepair.

Our assessment will use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System that identifies high-risk (category one) hazards and lower-risk (category two) hazards. If any category one hazards are found the Council has a duty to take action. This action will be one of the following:

  • Hazard Awareness Notice - Formal notification of the problem to the landlord
  • Improvement Notice - Requires the landlord to take action
  • Prohibition Order - Stops all or part of the property from being used
  • Emergency action - When the Council takes emergency action to remove an imminent risk of serious harm
  • Demolition Order - Requires vacation and demolition of the property

In most cases we will either serve a Hazard Awareness Notice or an Improvement Notice.

Failure to comply with a notice or order could result in the Council completing the repair at the landlords cost and/or the landlord being prosecuted.

Legal Action to improve Housing Standards

In 2013-14 the following notices were served on Landlords in East Staffordshire to improve the standard of private rented housing:

Hazard Awareness Notice: 1

Improvement Notice: 31

Prohibition Order: 10

Emergency Prohibition Order: 2