Most of this information can be downloaded via our repairs in private rented accommodation leaflet here.
- Your rights
- Reporting repairs
- Delays with repairs
- Access to carry out repairs
- Alternative accommodation while repairs are carried out
- Liability for repairs
- Incomplete or ineffective repairs
- Can i withhold my rent?
The Repairing Standard
Landlords and Letting Agents have a legal responsibility to undertake repairs and make sure that a property meets what is known as the 'repairing standard'. To meet this, the following standards must be met:
- Wind and watertight property, reasonably fit for human habitation
- Structure and exterior in reasonable repair and proper working order
- Installations for the supply of water and heated water, gas, electricity, sanitation and heating in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order
- Fixtures, fittings and appliances provided must be in reasonable repair / proper working order
- Furnishings capable of being used safely for the purpose for which they are designed
- Carbon monoxide alarm in rooms where there is a risk of exposure to CO
- Have suitable fire safety devices – smoke alarms, a heat alarm and fire extinguishers. All alarms should interlink. Alarms can be mains powered or use long-life lithium batteries that cannot be changed. The battery alarms must be a sealed or of a tamper proof type
The Tolerable Standard
All landlords also have to meet the 'tolerable standard'. This is the minimum standard a property has to meet to be fit for occupation. The local council can instruct work to be completed in your home to bring it up to the tolerable standard. A home may not be 'fit to live in' if:
- It has problems with rising or penetrating damp
- It's not structurally stable (for example, it might be subsiding)
- It does not have enough ventilation, natural and artificial light or heating
- It's not insulated well enough
- It does not have an acceptable fresh water supply, or a sink with hot and cold water
- It does not have an indoor toilet, a fixed bath or shower, and a wash basin with hot and cold water
- It does not have a good drainage and sewerage system
- The electric supply does not meet safety regulations
- It does not have a proper entrance
- There are no cooking facilities – this does not mean the landlord has to provide a cooker, but there must be somewhere suitable for a tenant to install their own
Nothing added within a tenancy agreement can remove a landlord’s responsibility to meet both the 'repairing standard' and the 'tolerable standard'.
Contact your landlord or letting agent in the first instance, clearly highlighting all the problems needing attention and ask for repairs to be carried out. Try and be methodical with this and keep notes of when you contacted them and what replies you got, as this may be needed as evidence at a later date. If possible, try and make this initial contact in writing or email, again, as evidence that these issues have been formally reported. By all means also make contact via a phone call, or in person - just be sure to follow-up any call with an email, so there is a clear record to refer to if actions are not completed as promised.
Delays with repairs
This is a common problem we see in the advice centre and can happen due to a number of factors. The overarching ethos of how long a repair should take is probably best summed up by 2 key words - 'urgency' and 'reasonableness'.
In terms of 'urgency', a repair that presents a serious risk to your health and safety should clearly be dealt with urgently (perhaps 1 or 2 days), whereas more minor repairs might take a little bit longer (perhaps up to 28 days).
In terms of 'reasonableness', some repairs can be logistically quite challenging to bring to a conclusion. A repair on a roof in a tenement property, for example, will require all property landlords, insurance companies, factors and contractors to come together, pay for and arrange a fix. In many cases this can result in potential delays. Key in situations like this are landlords or letting agent following-up the logistics of any repairs, dealing effectively with setbacks and communicating updates to you effectively - explaining why any delays are taking place and setting clear timelines for resolution.
When there are delays, be direct with your letting agent or landlord and seek to clarify what specifically is causing any delay and what the timeline for resolution is. This will allow you to determine whether this seems 'reasonable' or not. Also, consider including in any communication to your letting agent or landlord what impact these delays are having on you, especially any impact on your health or wellbeing.
You might want to refer to section 85 within this document, the Letting Agent Code of Practice, which lays out what is expected of letting agents when dealing with repairing issues.
Access to carry out repairs
You must allow your landlord reasonable access for inspection or work, to bring the tenancy up to the repairing standard. As a result of any refusal to allow access, you might be liable for any damage (particularly in emergency situations) should further disrepair occur.
Typically, when you have a Private Residential Tenancy, a landlord has to give you 48 hours notice to enter the property. This is bypassed if there is a clear emergency at the property, e.g. water leaks or structural issues, in which case a landlord has the right to enter the property without this notice.
Alternative accommodation while repairs are carried out
If there is serious damage to a property (e.g. water or structural damage) you may have to move out and seek alternative accommodation to allow contractors to fully resolve this type of situation. If this is the case, you are right to ask your landlord or letting agent what they can do to support you with this. Can they offer you temporary accommodation in another of their properties or place you in a hotel while the work is carried out? If not, can they cease rent payment for the duration of the works to help you fund the cost of alternative accommodation or will they offer a reduction in rent for the inconvenience if you are still able to live at the property whilst the works are carried out? In some cases landlords take out insurance to cover their liability for these types of costs, so this might be something you ask them about directly.
Ultimately, if you are unable to live at the property while work is carried out and attempts to seek support with alternative accommodation or rent reduction fail, then you have 2 ways to take this forward:-
- The formal option of raising a case with the Housing and Property Chamber
- The informal option of withholding rent payments (see more on this underneath)
Both these options can be delicate and complex, so please speak to someone in the SRC Advice Centre about this for more detailed guidance. We could help you by looking over a draft mail you plan to send your letting agent or landlord, help you navigate the Housing and Property Chamber processes and talk through the more extreme option of potentially withholding rent payments.
Shelter Scotland also have a helpful guide on how to take your landlord to the First Tier Tribunal.
Liability for repairs
It’s up to you to keep the property in good condition. Your tenancy agreement should note what your key responsibilities are and what ‘reasonable care’ might look like. This would be found in section 17 of your private residential tenancy agreement and might include:-
- Keeping the property reasonably clean, adequately ventilated, heated and reporting any problems to your landlord for repair (for example, a blocked drain or broken boiler)
- Keeping the furniture and fittings in good condition (allowing for normal wear and tear)
- Not causing any damage to the property or carrying out unauthorised alterations
- Carrying out minor maintenance (for example, changing light bulbs and keeping communal areas clean and tidy)
- Preventing water pipes from freezing in cold weather and not interfering with smoke, carbon monoxide or heat detectors, fire alarms or door entry systems.
If you are being accused of causing damage needing repair and are being asked to pay money or accept liability, seek advice from the SRC Advice Centre.
Incomplete or ineffective repairs
Where the landlord has failed to carry out repairs effectively or within a reasonable time, you may need to escalate the problem, using the following 2 steps as a guide:
Step 1 Notify Your Landlord
Send a letter / email to your landlord to formally highlight what has not been done satisfactorily, what impact this is having on you and again ask directly that they take action and provide you with an update / plan for resolution. The Advice Team have put together a template letter which you can customise with your own circumstances and send to your letting agent or landlord.
Step 2(a) Escalate problems in relation to the Repairing Standard
If Step 1 does not resolve the problem then you can approach the Housing and Property Chamber who can force your landlord to carry out repairs in relation to the repairing standard.
Before the Tribunal takes on your case, you have to be able to demonstrate that you have reported the problem to your landlord and have given them a reasonable chance to respond and resolve. As such, you will need to keep dated copies of any letters or emails you send your landlord about the repairs and a record of any broken promises or tradesmen not turning-up when agreed, etc.
If you are considering this step, you may find it helpful to speak to someone in the SRC Advice Centre to initially talk this through as this process will not represent a quick fix and can take time and considerable effort to progress.
Step 2(b) Escalate problems in relation to the Tolerable Standard
Your local Council has a statutory duty to look into any failure of this standard. Sanctions are available to local authorities in respect of any property found to be below the tolerable standard. You can see information on this for Glasgow City Council here.
Can I withhold my rent?
Where you are confident you have given your landlord or letting agent reasonable notice and time to resolve an issue, you can potentially highlight to them within a letter or email that you intend to withhold rent until the problems are resolved. A strong word of caution with this – withholding rent may actually inflame the situation, and lead to threats of eviction and worsening relations with your landlord or letting agent. Speak to the SRC Advice Centre if you are considering this option, so we can asses whether there are other options or an alternative approach before you do this, or if you move forward with this approach, that you are fully aware of the implications.
If you do end up withholding rent, you will need to keep the money to one side, until this dispute is fully resolved.
The Housing and Property Chamber may make a ‘rent relief order’ when it has decided that a landlord has failed to comply with a repairing standard enforcement order. This means that until the issue is resolved, you pay a reduction in rent.
For problems relating to insect / bug / rat infestations you should contact your landlord or your council’s Pest Control Team. Details for Glasgow City Council can be seen here. For more information about pest control, check out our separate advice page on this here.