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Tenant information and advice

Landlords of private rented properties have to carry out repairs within reasonable timescales, depending on the seriousness of the problem.

If repairs are needed in the place where you are living:

  • report the problem to your landlord or letting agent, no matter how small, and give the landlord the opportunity to fix the problem
  • follow it up in writing, with a date and keep a copy. It may be important that you can prove your landlord was aware of the problem

Larger landlords, especially registered social landlords, are likely to have a formal complaints procedure. You should have exhausted this procedure before contacting us.

If your landlord continues to ignore you or takes too long then you can contact our Housing Standards team on 01539 733 333 or email: housingstandards@southlakeland.gov.uk.

How to make a complaint

After you have made a complaint, an officer from the Housing Standards team will contact you to arrange to come and see you. The actual inspection may not take place for a few weeks. Depending on the type of complaint, you may be given priority. For example, elderly tenants complaining about heating failure during a winter period where alternative heating has not been provided.

We will do our best to arrange a suitable time and date to carry out the visit. For health and safety reasons, officers are not permitted to make appointments outside office hours or at the weekends. Inspections will take place during the hours of daylight, this is so that the outside of the property can be viewed.

After an inspection has been arranged, it is important you let us know if you are not able to keep the appointment. This will allow us to help someone else instead. If you do not keep the appointment, we will expect you to contact us to make another arrangement within 10 days. If we do not hear from you within that time, we will close the case.

The inspection

The officer visiting you is required by law to also notify the owner of the property before the inspection takes place. This does not necessarily mean you have to allow the owner access to the property, if you feel this would be inappropriate. However, a joint visit may assist in getting items of disrepair sorted as soon as practicably possible.

The officer will undertake an inspection of your home to identify any hazards that may be present under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. Photographs may be taken during the inspection to assist the officer in his/her duties.

The inspection is likely to take between 30 minutes to 1 hour. It may take longer if the property is large or there are a lot of problems identified.

The officer will take note of any defects that are present. Following the inspection, a risk assessment will be carried out under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System to identify whether any of the 29 hazards are present in your home. Any hazards will be scored and placed in a lettered band. Bands A to C are the most serious hazards and are called Category 1 hazards. We have a duty to take appropriate action on these. Category 2 hazards are in the bands D to J. We have a power to deal with these, but will only deal with the hazards as it sees appropriate.

Having the work done

If the risk assessment proves that work is necessary, the officer will prepare a letter of works for your landlord. You will get a copy of this letter to inform you of the works we require your landlord to undertake and also the timescales that your landlord should adhere to. Initially, we will take an informal approach with your landlord as we attempt to ensure that the works are undertaken (unless there is a serious defect in the building that would require an immediate response). If the landlord or agent does not respond in a timely manner to the informal approach, enforcement action will then be considered. This usually takes the form of a legal notice, which will specify a timeframe within which the work should be done.

Our officers will try their best to keep you informed of progress. However, you will appreciate that even with the best of intentions, it is not always possible for us to phone or write to you on a regular basis. If you want to enquire how your case is progressing, please contact us.

Avoid being homeless

If you think you are in danger of losing your home, then please call our Housing Advice Team on 01539 793 199. They will try to prevent you, where possible from becoming homeless. They could negotiate with your landlord, arrange mediation or support, or look at other ways of helping you. The Housing Advice Team will also discuss any other accommodation options that are available including:

  • renting from a private landlord
  • applying for properties from all the local housing associations through Cumbria Choice

All private landlords must ensure that:

  • at least one smoke alarm is installed on each floor of the property
  • a carbon monoxide detector is installed in every room which contains a solid fuel burning appliance

To report landlords who are not complying with the legislation, email: housingstandards@southlakeland.gov.uk.

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