According to new research, UK renters are waiting on average 41 days for landlords to fix serious issues like water leaks, loss of heating, damp and heating.

Housing disrepair is a major problem for both social and private renters across the country, with two thirds of tenants experiencing some sort of disrepair, according to a survey conducted by Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors.

According to the English Housing Survey (the most common problem), nearly half a billion renters report dampness every year.

Tenants in Cardiff have had the greatest struggle getting issues repaired, with three in ten claiming their reported disrepair issue has never been fixed

The most difficult problems for tenants in Cardiff are those that have never had their issues fixed. Three in ten claim that their reported disrepair has never been fixed.

The research found that nearly a third of renters have reported damp issues in their rental properties within the last five year, while close to three-quarters of ten claimed they had experienced heating and hot water problems. 

Another 26 percent of renters reported having experienced water leaks and blocked pipes.

Farzana Chowdhury, a partner at Hodge Jones & Allen said: ‘Our research reveals just how many people are living in properties that are not being properly maintained by their landlord.

It’s concerning to see damp being the most common issue. Damp can cause problems like asthma, respiratory infections and allergies. It can also affect the immune system.

One quarter of renters said they had lived in a property with mold recently, and more than one fifth complained of roof leaks.

Half of renters reported that their issue with disrepair was resolved within two weeks.

But, more than a fifth claimed that their wait was longer than six months and one in six claimed that the issue they reported had never been solved.

Chowdhury stated that it was shocking that renters waited on average 41 days for their reported problem to be fixed. However, the problem could often be dealt with relatively cheaply and quickly.

‘It is almost inevitable that problems will arise, but if the landlord takes care of them quickly, the tenant is often satisfied. 

Waiting game: More than a fifth of renters said their wait for a repair was in excess of six months, and one in six said their reported issue has never been fixed

Waiting game: More renters than a fifth said that their wait for repairs was longer than six months and one in six reported that their issue has never been fixed.

London was the worst location for reported problems nationwide, with eight out of ten tenants stating that they had experienced one or more serious issues in their tenancy.

Manchester was second with three quarters (75%) of its renters having at least one problem in a recent tenancy agreement.

Cardiff renters have had the most difficulty getting their problems fixed. Three out of ten claimed that the disrepair they reported had never been fixed.

This was also a problem in Leeds and Southampton where nearly a quarter of tenants experienced the same result.

What can renters do to make their lives easier?

Landlords have a contractual obligation to comply with tenancy agreements.

They are usually responsible for the exterior walls, roofs as well as water and gas pipes, water tanks and boilers.

Cities such as Leeds, Glasgow and Liverpool were all below the UK average but there is still a large majority of tenants reporting issues with the state of their property

Even though cities such as Liverpool, Glasgow and Leeds were below the UK average, a large proportion of tenants still report problems with their property’s state.

Richard Davies, head lettings at Chestertons London estate agent, stated that a landlord is legally bound to follow the clauses in a tenancy agreement. This is the legally binding document between landlord and tenant. It also requires that the property’s exterior and structure are safe and not in disrepair.

“A landlord is responsible for heating and hot water, gas appliances and pipework repairs.

​​There is now a vast array of legislation that landlords need to be aware of when renting out a property.

They must ensure that their rental properties can be used for human habitation.

Renters can claim a statutory nuisance if their property is in a dangerous or unhealthy condition.

According to Citizens Advice, disrepair that is hazardous to their health could include dampness or mould growth. Local authorities usually take action against landlords if there is a nuisance statutory.

Renters should be aware, however, that landlords may not be held responsible if tenants cause the property to be in disrepair. For example, if they do not use the extractor fan after a shower, the landlord may not be held accountable. 

37 per cent of those surveyed claimed to have had a damp issue within their rented property

37 percent of those surveyed reported having a damp issue in their rented property

It is important that renters inform their landlords of any maintenance issues, so that the landlord is informed.

Al Mcclenahan from Justice For Tenants, director of the non profit advice service, said: “If renters aren’t having their disrepair problems handled quickly, they should make certain they have informed landlords in writing, by email, SMS or WhatsApp.

They should then send photos of the problems along with a copy the correspondence with landlord to their council’s Environmental Health team and a request for an inspection.

“Unfortunately, inspections are not always possible quickly. Most Environmental Health Teams are severely under-resourced. However, that is the best option for renters. 

Renters may seek the assistance of a law firm that specializes in housing law as a last resort to bring a claim against their landlord.

Chowdhury said that anyone who has had a disrepair incident that has not been addressed within a reasonable period of time could file a claim to have the repairs ordered and for compensation.

If their landlord fails to fix a water leak, and this causes damage to your possessions, they may be able to sue you for private nuisance.

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