Right To Repair Scheme Guide For Social Housing Tenants

mariam-abu-hussein
Mariam Abu HusseinLegal Assessment Specialist @ Lawhive
Updated on 5th December 2023

Living in a property that’s in a state of disrepair is no fun. And that’s putting it mildly. This is made even worse if you rent your property and are at the mercy of your landlord when requesting repairs.

At best, waiting for your landlord to carry out repairs can be frustrating, at worst it can be downright dangerous or even make you ill. That’s why it’s so important to report repairs to your landlord ASAP. And if they don’t address the problems in a timely way, you might be able to make a housing disrepair claim

right-to-repair-scheme

When it comes to getting repairs sorted quickly, council and local authority tenants might be able to access a Right to Repair scheme. In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at Right to Repair schemes for social housing tenants, including what they are, what they cover, who can use them, and what your rights are in relation to them. 

What is a Right to Repair scheme? 

The ‘Right to Repair’ scheme for council tenants in the UK is a way for them to get certain repairs sorted out quickly. If there’s a small but urgent repair that poses a threat to health and safety, the scheme is designed to make sure the problem is fixed as soon as possible without the tenant having to pay for it. 

Under the Right to Repair scheme, if the repair isn’t done in a reasonable time frame, a social housing tenant can be compensated for the inconvenience. 

 How does the Right to Repair scheme work? 

The Right to Repair scheme covers quick repairs that cost up to £250. It’s specifically for problems that, if not fixed fast, could pose a risk to health and safety. 

Under the right to repair scheme, repairs that are the responsibility of the local authority or council (i.e. landlord’s obligations) should be completed within a set timescale. If a repair isn’t done in double the promised time, they could receive compensation as a way of saying sorry for the delay. 

When can you use the Right to Repair scheme? 

The right to repair scheme applies to small repairs which can be done quickly and cost less than £250. For example, leaking roofs, blocked sinks and toilets, or unsafe electrical wiring.

Depending on the right to repair scheme, there’s usually a list of repairs which are covered by the scheme. If you’re unsure whether the repair you require falls under this scheme, you could ask your landlord for the list or request that your landlord comes to look at the repair which is needed and check if it qualifies under the scheme. 

Common qualifying repairs include: 

  • Insecure doors;

  • Problems with water and electricity supplies; 

  • Leaking roof; 

  • Broken entry phone systems.

When can’t you use the Right to Repair scheme? 

While the Right to Repair scheme is great, there are some repairs which aren’t covered. 

Firstly, a right to repair scheme cannot be used for issues that would cost more than £250 to fix. It also can’t be used if the council is not responsible for the repair (i.e it’s related to appliances or furniture you own, or you have caused the damage yourself).

If the council decides that a repair doesn’t qualify, they should notify you of this in writing.

Tenants also can’t use the scheme if the council requested access to the property to inspect the problem and this was refused. Right to repair schemes also don’t apply if the council who is your landlord rents out fewer than 100 homes. 

How to report a repair under the Right to Repair scheme

To report a repair under the Right to Repair scheme you should: 

  1. Identify the problem that needs fixing; 

  2. Report the issue to your landlord, being clear about what needs fixing and when you first noticed it. This doesn’t have to be in writing, however it is advisable to do so and keep a copy for yourself;

  3. Make it clear that you are aware of the Right to Repair scheme and set a reasonable deadline for the repair. Typically, this is around a week, but it can vary. 

  4. Give your landlord the chance to fix the problem within the agreed timeframe. They should issue a repair notice to a contractor and give you a copy of this; 

  5. If the contractor does not do the work within the time period given, you should contact the council again. They should then issue a notice to another contractor with a fresh time limit; 

  6. If the repair is not carried out, you can claim compensation. 

How long should repairs take under the Right to Repair scheme?

Under the Right to Repair scheme, repairs should be carried out within 1, 3 or 7 working days. This depends on how urgent the problem is, however, your landlord should let you know how much a repair will take to put right. 

The council will likely use an independent contractor to carry out repairs. In some instances, they may fail to turn up. If this does happen, you should tell the council and they wll arrange another contractor to carry out the repair. 

In these circumstances, it’s important to know that a new time limit starts after you inform the council of the original contractors no show and ask them to arrange a replacement.

How to claim compensation under the right to repair scheme 

If you have reported repairs and the second contractor doesn’t get the job done within the new agreed time frame, you may be able to claim compensation. 

Under the right to repair scheme, you can claim £10 compensation, plus an extra £2 for each day it’s not fixed up to a max of £50. This should be paid directly to you, unless you are in rent arrears. In that case, the council will deduct the compensation amount from the rent you owe. 

To make a claim for compensation under the Right to Repair scheme, you should ask the council for the official process. Usually, you will have to put a claim in writing. 

However, you won’t get compensation if you didn’t report the issue in the first place, weren’t home when the contractor came to fix the work, or you prevented the contractor from entering your property in order to fix the issue. Also, if something unexpected like bad weather messes up the plans, you might not be eligible for compensation either. 

How to complain if a local authority fails to carry out a repair

If the local authority fails to fix something in your property, or they do a bad job of it, you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman. 

Anybody can make a complaint through this method, and the service is free. The most efficient way to register a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman is by using their online complaint form

Everyone, regardless of who they are or who they rent their home from, deserves to have a safe and comfortable home. In the event that your landlord doesn’t have a right to repair scheme, or you have been waiting for repairs for a long time, you may be able to make a housing disrepair claim and get compensation. 

At Lawhive, our solicitors provide help with housing disrepair claims on a no win, no fee basis. This means, if your case isn’t successful, you won’t have to pay them a penny. This is part of our commitment to make seeking legal help accessible and affordable for all, not just the privileged few. 

If you’re dealing with the stresses and strains of housing disrepair, whether you’re a social housing tenant or rent privately, contact us today for a free case assessment and find out how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.

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