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Reasonable repair

Your home must be safe, and your landlord must make repairs to the structure in reasonable time.



Whose responsibility is it?

Please note that lodgers have different rights to tenants, and the information on this page does not apply to you. Read our information for lodgers.

Your responsibilities

As a tenant, you must look after your home in a responsible way.

You should:

  • keep it clean
  • not damage the property and make sure your guests don't either
  • carry out minor maintenance such as replacing smoke alarm batteries
  • use the heating properly
  • don’t block flues or ventilation

You are also responsible for minor repairs, such as:

  • fixing a bathroom cabinet
  • repairing an internal door
  • renewing sealant around the bat

Your landlord’s responsibilities

The law says that your landlord is responsible for repairs to the exterior and structure of your home.  This includes:

  • walls
  • stairs and bannisters
  •  roof
  • external doors
  • windows
  • sinks, baths, toilets and other sanitary fittings, including pipes and drains
  • heating and hot water
  • chimneys and ventilation
  • electrical wiring

The law also says that conditions in your home must not be a risk to anyone’s health or safety.  The council is responsible for enforcing the law on this.

The freeholder’s responsibilities

If you live in a block of flats, your landlord is responsible for repairing the flat itself, but the freeholder is responsible for communal areas. This includes:

  • the lifts
  • stairwells
  • the overall safety of the building

If you live in a housing association on council estate, there will be signs on the blocks indicating who the freehold landlord is. You can find contact details for all housing associations in Tower Hamlets on our website  

Tower Hamlets Homes manage the council’s housing estates. You can check who owns the freehold for any property for just £3 at the Land Registry.

Find out more about responsibilities for repair on the Shelter website.

What to do if you need repairs

Most landlords want to know as soon as something needs fixing, and want to fix things as soon as possible.  Always let your landlord know when something needs repairing. 

When you ask your landlord to make repairs, you should always try to ask in writing – even if that is an email or text.  Then keep a copy in case you need to refer to it later. 

If your landlord needs access to the property to inspect it and do repairs, they should give reasonable notice and arrange a suitable time to visit (unless there's an emergency).

Your landlord must put right any damage to internal decorations caused by repair problems or while repairs were carried out.

Revenge evictions

Sadly, some landlords start legal action to evict their tenants if they ask for repairs. This is a risk you need to keep in mind. 

If your tenancy started or was renewed on or after October 1st 2015, you have some legal protection from eviction after reporting repairs.

Get advice if you reported repairs and your landlord has told you to leave – or if you are worried they might.

Find out more about revenge eviction if you ask for repairs on Shelter’s website.

Take action

If you can show that the conditions present an immediate risk to your safety or health, we will arrange to inspect your home.

In most cases, if the conditions are putting your health or safety at risk but not at an immediate risk, we will write to your landlord first.   We will give your landlord three weeks to deal with the problem.  This is usually enough to solve the problem. If after three weeks you tell us that your landlord has not responded to our letter, we will inspect your home.

After inspecting your home, we will take action.  The action we take will depend on the kind of problem you have, but if we find conditions that are a risk to your health, we will issue a formal notice to the landlord.  If the landlord does not take action after this, we will either prosecute or fine your landlord.

In extreme situations, we may make repairs ourselves or make an order prohibiting your landlord from letting the property any more. 

We promise that we will keep you informed of the progress of any action we take.

Contact the council about your dangerous or unhealthy home on 020 7364 5000 or by email at environmental.health@towerhamlets.gov.uk

If your landlord is not doing the necessary repairs, you can contact any of the other agencies signed up the charter. 

All of the agencies signed up to the Tower Hamlets Private Renters’ Charter promise to find the best way to improve your situation and the most effective action to take against landlords who break the rules.