Repairs if you rent from the council or housing association

Check who's responsible for repairs

If you rent from the council or housing association, they’re responsible for most repairs in your home. Certain repairs must be done within a set number of days.

You must keep your home in good condition and allow access for repairs.

The council or housing association's responsibilities

The council or housing association must maintain and repair things like:

  • pipes, drains, toilets and sinks

  • gas, electricity and heating systems

  • damp and mould caused by repair issues

  • appliances and furniture they provide

  • your roof, windows, doors and the exterior of your home

  • communal hallways, lifts and shared areas

Your tenancy agreement should list any appliances they must maintain.

Keeping your home to a legal standard

Your home must meet a legal standard of repair called the tolerable standard.

If this standard is not met, the council or housing association must do repairs to put it right.

Your home will not meet the tolerable standard if:

  • it's not structurally stable

  • it's not insulated well enough

  • it has problems with rising or penetrating damp

  • there’s not enough ventilation, natural and artificial light or heating

  • there’s no suitable way for you to install cooking facilities

  • the electric supply does not meet safety regulations

  • it does not have:

    • a proper entrance

    • an acceptable fresh water supply

    • a sink with hot and cold water

    • an indoor toilet

    • a fixed bath or shower

    • good drainage and sewerage system

    • suitable smoke, fire and carbon monoxide alarms

Keeping your home safe

The council or housing association is responsible for:

How long repairs should take

Certain repairs must be done within 1 to 7 working days, once the council or housing confirms they'll do repairs.

This is called the Right to Repair scheme. It covers small, urgent repairs that cost less than £350 to do.

If repairs are not done in time, you could get compensation.

How long repairs should take under Right to Repair

Within 1 day

  • No gas

  • No water

  • No heating

  • No electricity

  • Unsafe power or lighting socket, or electrical fitting

  • Significant leaks or flooding from water or heating pipes, tanks, cisterns

  • Blocked or leaking drains, waste pipe or toilet pan

  • Toilet not flushing, when there is no other toilet in your home

  • Blocked sink, bath or drain

  • Blocked flue

  • Insecure external window, door or lock

  • Unsafe access path or step

Within 3 days

  • Limited electricity supply

  • Limited water supply

  • Unsafe flooring or stairs

  • Loose or detached banister or hand rail

Within 7 days

  • Kitchen extractor fan not working

  • Bathroom extractor fan not working

How long other repairs should take

If something’s not covered by the Right to Repair scheme, work should be done in a reasonable amount of time.

Decide what's reasonable for you, and ask the council or housing to agree to it. To decide what's reasonable, ask yourself:

  • whether it’s an emergency

  • how long is fair and realistic for them to fix it

  • what effect it’s having on you and the people you live with

Your responsibilities as a tenant

Report repairs

You must report repairs as soon as you notice them.

Give access for repairs

You must allow workpeople and your housing officer into your home for inspections and repairs at reasonable times of the day.

You should get at least 24 hours' notice in writing before anyone comes over.

You do not need to be given notice for repairs to shared areas, like hallways or roofs of flats.

If there’s an emergency you may not get any notice. Workpeople can break in if they have to, but they must repair any damage they cause.

Making home improvements

You're usually responsible if you want to make improvements to your home, such as painting and decorating.

There’s a difference between repair and improvements. If your home does not have a shower but you want one, it's an improvement. If your home came with a shower that has broken, it's a repair.

You usually need permission to make larger improvements, such as replacing kitchen units.

The rules are different when you need home adaptations.

Gardening

Your tenancy agreement should say who is responsible for maintaining your garden.

It’s usually your responsibility. The council or housing association should make sure it's in a reasonable state when you move in.

Maintaining furniture and appliances

You’re responsible for replacing and repairing furniture and appliances you own.

If your home comes with any furniture or appliances, you must keep them in good condition.

Keeping your home in good condition

You must carry out minor maintenance, such as:

  • keeping your home clean

  • checking smoke alarm batteries

  • heating your home so pipes do not freeze and burst

If you're struggling to heat your home, contact Home Energy Scotland for advice and support.

Last updated: 20 July 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England