Renting in the private sector


When something breaks in your private rented home, use Shelter’s website to check if your landlord must fix it.

If your landlord is responsible, you should contact them by text, email or phone. Shelter has a template letter you can use to write to your landlord to ask for repairs.

If you report a repair to your landlord by phone, follow up with a letter or email. This means you can confirm the date you first reported the problem. If you write a letter, you can get free proof of postage at the Post Office or pay to send it by recorded delivery.

In most cases, your landlord will respond and fix the problem.

If your landlord does not complete the repair

If you have told your landlord in writing and they haven’t responded, write to them again. This time, tell your landlord you will be contacting the SBC Housing Regulation team.

You need to give your landlord a reasonable amount of time to arrange the repairs. The reasonable amount of time you think is reasonable depends on the type of repair.

Urgent repairs

For urgent repairs, giving your landlord 24 hours to respond may be reasonable, but it may take longer for the repair to be carried out. Urgent repairs include:

  • no heating in cold weather
  • no running water
  • no electricity
  • no working toilets in your home
  • burst water pipes
  • structural collapse in the building or imminent structural collapse.

If you think you have a gas leak, leave the house and call the National Gas Emergencies number on 0800 111 999.

Contact the housing regulation team

Contact the housing regulation team if your landlord has not:

  • responded to your written contact within a reasonable timescale
  • arranged the repairs.

You will need to tell us:

  • the date you first contacted your landlord
  • if your landlord responded to your request
  • your landlord’s contact details
  • what problems or hazards there are in your home.

You can upload photos.

What we will do

Decide whether to visit your home

If your form suggests there are hazards in your home that your landlord has failed to deal with, we will contact you to discuss the matter further. An officer may decide to visit your home to inspect what condition it is in.

The officer will assess what action is needed to make your home safe to live in. We use the health and safety standards for rented homes to check if there are hazards in your home.

We will not visit you if your complaint is about your home’s decoration or furniture. Unless they are a serious danger to your health, we will not talk to your landlord about your decoration or furniture.

Contact your landlord

The officer will contact your landlord to tell them what they found in the inspection. We will try to agree a timescale for your landlord to do the repairs.
We may revisit your home if your landlord does not:

  • respond to us
  • stick to agreed timescales for repairs.

If the repairs you need are serious, we may serve your landlord an official notice. It’s an offence not to obey an order to improve the building. Your landlord could be fined if they do not do the repairs we order.

If there are very serious hazards the landlord cannot easily fix, the council may make a legal order stating that the property is not safe to live in.

This type of order could result in you having to move out of your home. We only take this action as a last resort where there is no other option.

Contact you about our action

We will send you a copy if we issue a notice and tell you our reasons. If the council makes an order that your home is not safe to live in, we will provide you with a copy. We will also give you information on what to do next.