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Right to Repair Scheme in Council Housing

Find out what to do if you rent from the council or a housing association or cooperative and your home needs repair work done. Repairs which cost less than £350 will be covered by the right to repair scheme, which means they should be carried out quickly.

Reporting the problem to your landlord

The first thing you should do is report the problem to your landlord. Even if the repair is minor and you're not that bothered about getting it fixed, you should always let your landlord know about it.

Your tenants' handbook should tell you who to contact to report repairs. There should also be a number you can call outside of office hours in an emergency. If you report the repair by phone, it's a good idea to send a letter as well. The letter should be dated and you should keep a copy in case you need it later. It's important that you can prove your landlord was aware of the problem because your landlord isn't responsible for repairs until they have been reported.

Download a sample letter or create a letter online to help you report the problem.

What happens when I report the problem?

When you report the problem, the council or housing association should tell you whether the repair is their responsibility or whether it's up to you to carry out the work. If it is their responsibility, they should also tell you whether or not the repair is covered by the right to repair scheme.

What is the right to repair scheme?

The right to repair scheme covers repairs which cost less than £350 to carry out. These are known as 'qualifying repairs' and they include repairs to:

  • unsafe power or lighting sockets or electrical fittings
  • the electricity or gas supply
  • blocked flues to fires or boilers
  • external windows, doors or locks which are not secure
  • the space or water heating systems, if no other sources of heating are available
  • toilets which won't flush (unless there is another toilet in the home)
  • blocked or leaking drains
  • blocked sinks, baths or basins
  • the water supply
  • leaking or flooding from pipes, tanks or cisterns
  • unsafe floorboards or stairs
  • unsafe access to the property (for example, an unsafe path)
  • loose banisters or handrails
  • a broken extractor fan for a kitchen or bathroom with no external window or door.

Your landlord may need to inspect the problem before they can tell you whether it is a qualifying repair. If it is, your landlord should:

  • tell you how long it should take to fix the problem
  • explain your rights under the right to repair scheme
  • give you the contact details of the contractor who usually does repair work of this type for their properties, and at least one other contractor from their list of approved companies
  • arrange for you to be at home to let the contractor in.

How long do repairs take under the scheme?

Depending on the urgency of the repair, it has to be carried out within one, three or seven working days. For example:

  • a blocked flue, drain, toilet, sink or bath should be repaired within one working day
  • a leak from a pipe, tank or cistern should be repaired within one working day
  • a problem with the heating should be repaired within one working day
  • a loose banister or handrail should be repaired within three working days
  • a broken extractor fan should be repaired within seven working days.

What if I'm not there when the contractor arrives?

If you're not home at the arranged time to let in the contractor, the repair work will be cancelled and you'll need to start the procedure again.

What if the repairs aren't done in time?

If the contractor doesn't turn up to do the work by the last day of the time limit set (for example, one day for a loss of power), you can call the other contractor on your landlord's list of contractors. They will then arrange with your landlord to do the work instead. You can't use a contractor who isn't on your landlord's list. Your landlord will have to pay you £15 in compensation to make up for the inconvenience. If the second contractor doesn't finish the job within the time limit, you'll be entitled to further compensation of £3 for every day over the time limit until the repair is done. The maximum amount of compensation you can receive is £100.

You'll also be entitled to £15 compensation if:

  • the first contractor starts the work but doesn't finish it by the end of the time limit, or
  • no other contractor is available, in which case the first contractor will have to do the work.

If you have rent arrears, your landlord probably won't pay you any compensation money directly, but will reduce the amount you owe instead.

If the contractor can't get the repair work done due to circumstances beyond their control (such as severe weather conditions) the time limit may be extended and you won't get compensation. Your landlord will let you know if this is the case.

What if the right to repair scheme doesn't cover the repair?

The right to repair scheme does not cover repairs that cost more than £350 to carry out. Your landlord should have a procedure for dealing with these kinds of repairs, which should be explained in your tenants' handbook. When you report the repair, your landlord should let you know how long it will take to get the work done. There is no legal time limit, but the work should be done within a reasonable time.

What if my landlord refuses to do the repairs?

Most landlords do carry out repairs once they know about them. However, if your landlord refuses to carry out the repairs, there are several things you can do, including making a complaint, joining with other tenants to campaign for repairs and withholding rent. Talk to an adviser at a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice before taking any action, particularly if you are thinking of withholding rent. It's vital that you follow the correct procedures, otherwise you could be evicted. Use the Advice Services Directory to find help near you.

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The important points

  • Report repairs to your landlord as soon as possible.
  • The right to repair scheme covers repairs which cost less than £350 to carry out. 
  • Depending on the urgency of the repair, it has to be carried out within one, three or seven working days.
  • You can make a complaint if your landlord refuses to carry out repairs.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us

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