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Complaints about privately rented properties

Guidance on the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords in the private rented sector.

Tenant responsibilities

Tenants are responsible for looking after the property whilst living in it.

Tenants must keep it clean and free from damp and mould growth caused by condensation; carry out minor repairs such as replacing light bulbs or clearing a blocked sink; and repair any damage caused by you or your visitors.

Landlord responsibilities

Landlords are responsible for maintenance and repairs to:

  • The structure of the building including gutters, pipes and drains, roof, walls, floors and windows
  • Plumbing and sanitary fittings such as baths, toilets and sinks
  • Heating and hot water systems
  • Electrical and gas installations such as wiring, pipework radiators and boilers

Your landlord has the right to come into your home to check if repairs are needed and to carry out works. However, they must give you 24 hours’ notice and agree a suitable time with you.

Reporting a problem

The GOV.UK 'How to rent' guide gives information for tenants and landlords in the private rented sector to help them understand their rights and responsibilities.

Report a problem to your landlord or managing agent

Shelter (the housing and homelessness charity) provide advice and standard letters which you can use to report repairs to your landlord. The letters can be sent by email or post. Remember to always keep a copy for your records.

Urgent repairs

For an urgent repair, such as a lack of heating or hot water or dangerous electrics, you should contact your landlord or agent immediately by telephone and follow the call up with a letter or email.

Less serious repairs

If less serious repairs are needed, you should tell your landlord or managing agent as soon as possible and keep copies of any correspondence.

What to expect from your landlord

Landlords should normally attempt to fix serious hazards such as a broken boiler or electricity failure within 1 to 3 working days but less serious hazards can be repaired over a longer timescale.

What is expected of you

If your landlord agrees to carry out the repairs, it is important that you give them reasonable access to inspect the property, time to find a contractor and enough time to start and finish the work. Your landlord should let you know how long it will take to complete the work.

If your landlord doesn’t carry out the repairs it is important that you do not withhold your rent. If you do, it may result in your landlord applying for possession of the property.

How the Council can help

Please note, the Council is not able to become involved in disputes between tenants and landlords over minor defects or routine maintenance.

Before contacting the Council you must contact your landlord first as we will ask to see a copy of your letters or emails as well as any responses.

Our officers can investigate a report of serious disrepair which is causing a health and safety hazard in a rented property if you have evidence that your landlord has not dealt with it.

We will inform your landlord that a defect has been reported which requires repair. We must inform your landlord before any inspection of your home and they are entitled to accompany us if a formal inspection takes place. We will therefore require contact details for you landlord/agent:

  • Contact number
  • Address (if available)
  • Email address (if available)

Our officers use the Housing Health & Safety Rating system (HHSRS)(pdf, 447KB) to assess potential health and safety risks to tenants.

What happens next

If the property contains a serious hazard the officer will decide the most appropriate action.

If the landlord does not voluntarily repair the defect, the usual course of action is to serve a notice on the landlord requiring them to complete an undertaking to carry out the works in a given timescale.

If an undertaking is not received within the timescale or if an undertaking is breached, the officer will decide on appropriate enforcement action such as the service of a statutory notice.


Charges usually apply to the landlord when a statutory notice is served.

Further action

If a statutory notice is not complied with the Council may prosecute the landlord under Housing Act 2004. If the need is urgent the Council can arrange for the required works to be carried out by Council appointed contractors, with the costs being charged to the landlord.


If you want us to investigate a health and safety hazard in, or arising from, a private rented property you can report a private housing problem online or download and complete either:

Completed forms should be returned to

Phone: 020 8545 3025

Updated: 23 February 2023

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