Tuesday, 5 July 2011 2:11 PM
National charity Citizens Advice has issued new advice to private tenants whose homes are in need of repair.
Following Monday night’s Dispatches programme, which threw light on 'Landlords from Hell', Citizens Advice has reminded tenants they have the right for the structure of their home and heating and hot water systems to be kept in good repair by landlords.
Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice chief executive, said: “Last year Citizens Advice Bureaux helped with almost 500,000 housing problems, up 14 per cent from the year before.
“Everyone should have the right to live in a safe and decent home, but we see a lot of private tenants who are too scared to complain about terrible conditions for fear of eviction.
“We want to make sure people have the right information about their legal rights and can get the advice they need in this complex area of law.”
The charity said tenants living in unsatisfactory conditions have several ways of getting repairs or improvements done, but that they should always check their housing status before complaining.
It also advocated talking to landlords or seeking out advice through local housing aid centres, law centres or a Citizens Advice Bureau if tenants were in doubt about their housing status.
According to Citizens Advice, even if a landlord isn't legally obliged to carry out particular repairs, it's always worth asking them if they'd be willing to help, ideally in writing.
However, if a landlord refuses to do something that you believe is their responsibility, it's imperative that you don't stop paying your rent – you don't have the right to do this and it could result in the landlord taking legal action against you.
Should the condition of your home be such that it is either having a negative impact on your health or causing a nuisance to neighbours, complain to your local council's Environmental Health Department. Once they have investigated, they will be able to order the landlord to carry out any necessary repairs. They are also obliged to act if the property is not in an acceptable, habitable state.
To find out more, visit CitizensAdvice.org.uk.