Your home must be safe, and your landlord must make repairs to the structure in reasonable time.
As a tenant, you must look after your home in a responsible way.
- 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:
- stairs and bannisters
- external doors
- sinks, baths, toilets and other sanitary fittings, including pipes and drains
- heating and hot water
- chimneys and ventilation
- electrical wiring
If your landlord lives in the same flat or house as you, and shares a bathroom, kitchen or living room with you, then you are a lodger. Lodgers have fewer rights than tenants, and the information on this page does not apply to you.
Please visit the Shelter website for more information.
Get advice if you are not sure whether or not you are a lodger. For example, you are not a lodger if:
- you live with a “head tenant” who collects the rent; or
- your landlord moved in after you first moved in; or
- your landlord keeps a room for themselves but does not live there.
The law also says that conditions in your home must not be a risk to your health or safety, or to the health or safety of other people. The council is responsible for enforcing the law on this.
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.
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.
The freeholder’s responsibilities
If you live in a block of flats, your landlord is responsible for repairing the structure of your flat but the freeholder is responsible for the lifts, communal areas and the overall safety of the building.
Almost all flats are owned on a leasehold basis – a kind of very long-term rental agreement. The freeholder owns the block itself. Leaseholders must have permission from the freeholder to rent out their flats. If your landlord does not have permission from the freeholder, they will almost certainly have broken the contract terms of their lease. This would mean that the freeholder could take legal action to repossess the flat from the leaseholder.
The freeholder will be responsible for managing the communal areas of the block, and in some cases for managing the estate itself.
In many cases, freeholders are housing associations or the council’s housing management organisation Tower Hamlets Homes – for example if you are renting an ex-council flat.
If you live in a housing association on council estate, there will be signs on the blocks indicating who the main 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.
If you have concerns
If you think the conditions are putting your health or safety at risk, the council can assess whether your home is safe and take action if it is not.
If you show us that the conditions present an immediate risk to your safety or your 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.
If your landlord is not doing the necessary repairs, get advice from one of the agencies signed up to the Tower Hamlets Private Renters’ Charter: we all promise to find the best way to improve your situation - and the most effective action to take against landlords or agents who break the rules.