Complaining to a landlord


Complaining to a landlord

One of the advantages of renting is the knowledge that if something goes wrong you can ask your landlord to sort it out. At least that’s how it should work. But what should you do if something goes wrong and your landlord won’t help?

If you find yourself in this situation it can be incredibly frustrating and you might think fixing the job yourself will be the best solution. However, if you do and something goes wrong, you’ll be liable and might have to foot the bill. So, resist the temptation to fix it yourself and follow these steps instead:

Unless you contract says otherwise (for example, if the property was unfurnished and it’s the washer you brought with you that’s broken down) it’s your landlord’s responsibility to deal with the situation. Never feel bad about asking, even if you have to ask multiple times.

Keep track of who you’re speaking to when you make requests for repairs. This is particularly relevant if your landlord operates through a letting agent. It may be the case that you never actually speak to the landlord yourself and instead have to let the letting agent know. So, keep a note of the date and time you call and who you speak to.

Again, if your property is managed by a letting agent, you may be told that they can’t do anything until they get permission from the actual landlord. If this is the answer you get, follow up on it and make sure that the landlord definitely has been contacted.

If nothing’s being done to fix your problem, remember there are laws that are designed to protect you. Your landlord has a legal responsibility to maintain the property and keep it in a “habitable state.” This law is part of the Landlord Tenants Act 1985 and you can use this to support your complaint.

Your landlord could be part of some sort of accreditation scheme or regulated by The Property Ombudsman, which regulates how they behave. If you really are getting nowhere, find out who their regulatory body is and refer your complaint to them. They’ll look into the matter further for you.

If you do want to refer your complaint to the Ombudsman, it’s best to send it in writing (preferably via email so that you have a digital copy of the correspondence) to your landlord outlining exactly what the problem is and how many times you have tried to get it resolved with them.

If you find out that your landlord is not part of an accreditation scheme or regulatory body it’s best to send your complaint to your local council or ask the Citizens Advice Bureau and they will be able to tell you the next steps to take.

When something goes wrong and you don’t get the help you need, it can be very easy to feel angry about the situation. Always remember to make your point clearly and calmly and give your landlord a chance to put it right.