Repair and maintenance of houses

Repairs, maintenance and home safety become an issue if your landlord will not carry out essential repairs or maintain your home in a safe condition.  Generally private landlords are responsible for most major repairs.  Tenants are usually only responsible for minor maintenance and repairing any damage they have caused. If you are experiencing problems click on the relevant heading below for advice and help. You can also contact:

Gas problems in your home

If you smell gas

If you smell gas, or you think an appliance is dangerous, contact: National Grid immediately. They will give you the appropriate safety advice depending on the circumstances.

Unsafe or faulty gas appliances

It is illegal for anyone to use a gas appliance if they suspect it is unsafe. The most dangerous appliances still in use are open-flued gas appliances. These units are not sealed and the burnt gases or carbon monoxide can escape into the room contaminating the air.

Your landlord has a legal responsibility to ensure all gas pipe work, appliances and flues in the property are maintained in a safe condition and are inspected regularly.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be caused by gas appliances in the home that have been incorrectly installed, have blocked flues or insufficient ventilation.  Every year 30 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of gas appliances incorrectly installed or not properly maintained.  People who sleep in rooms containing open flued gas appliances that are left burning at night are most at risk.

What are the danger signs to look out for?

inforgraphic explaining symptoms of carbon monoxide
  • Staining, soot or discolouration around a gas fire or around the top of a water heater or central heating boiler
  • A yellow or orange flame in the gas appliance
  • For the tenant, the onset of symptoms such as tiredness, headache, nausea, giddiness, pains in the chest and stomach (these symptoms can often be mistaken for cold or influenza)

What you can do

  • Ensure there is adequate ventilation in the room
  • Fit an audible carbon monoxide monitor to alert you of unacceptable levels
  • If think your gas appliance, gas pipe work or gas flue is unsafe contact your landlord immediately
  • If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning
    • get everybody out of the house and into fresh air
    • open all doors and windows to ventilate the property
    • do not turn off electrical switches
    • extinguish all naked flames. Don't smoke, strike matches or do anything to cause ignition

What we can do

  • Provide support, advice and guidance if your landlord is refusing to carry out repairs
  • If your landlord fails or refuses to maintain gas pipe work, appliances or flues in a safe condition we may be able to take enforcement action against your landlord.

Additional information about unsafe gas appliances in properties can be found at Health and safety executive: Gas safety .

Gas certificates

The Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 2004 applies to all rented property which have gas appliances and all landlords have to:

  • ensure all gas pipe work, appliances and flues are inspected once a year by someone who is registered with Gas Safe (Gas Safe has replaced CORGI);
  • keep gas safety record (previously called the gas safety certificate) for 2 years;
  • provide tenants with a copy of the gas safety record within 28 days of the tests being carried out or before they move in.

Landlords are responsible for repairing any defects which are identified on the gas safety record.  All repairs and maintenance on gas appliances must be undertaken by a registered engineer with Gas Safe

What you can do

  • Ask your landlord for a copy of the current gas safety record
  • If you own any gas appliances in your property it is your responsibility to get them checked. However your landlord may be responsible for the maintenance of any gas pipe work to the appliance or flue from it.
  • If your landlord refuses to undertake safety tests on your appliances you can report them to the Health & Safety Executive.

What we can do

  • If your landlord refuses to undertake any necessary works recommended on the gas safety record we may be able to assist; contact Environmental Health.

Here is additional information about Gas safety - tenants

Electricity problems in your home

No electricity supply to your home

There could be several reasons why you have no supply to your home. In the first instance check that neighbours have a supply. If there is no supply to your area contact your utility supplier in the first instance. Details of your distribution network supplier can be found at National Grid - power cuts .
 
If it is just your home affected then you need to establish where the problem is. Faulty or damaged wiring, sockets and electrical fixtures in your home can be dangerous and care should be taken.

If you are an owner-occupier it is your responsibility and you should contact a NICEIC or similar registered contractor to fix the problem.

If you are a tenant your landlord is responsible for fixing the problem, contact your landlord to inform them and agree when the work can be carried out, give them the opportunity to resolve the problem before contacting us.

Dangerous wiring, sockets and electrical fixtures

Exposed bare wires (e.g. copper wire showing) or sparking sockets in the home can be dangerous and extreme care should be taken. Contact with live parts at 240 volts can cause electric shocks, burns and fires.

Your landlord must make sure that the electrical system in the house is safe and that all appliances they supply (e.g. cookers, kettles etc.) are safe.

What you can do

  • As a tenant your landlord is responsible for fixing the problem. Inform them and agree when the work can be carried out, give them the opportunity to resolve the problem before contacting us.

What we can do

  • If your landlord refuses to undertake any essential electrical repair works we may be able to assist and you can contact Environmental Health.

Advice and guidance about electrical safety in the home can be found at Shelter- electrical safety in rented homes

No lights or power

There could be a number of reasons why you have no lighting or power in your home.

What you can do

  • Check if the lights in the street or if any neighbours have been affected. Check  Northern Power Grid  to confirm if there has been a power cut in your area
  • Check that the bill has been paid
  • If your home has a prepayment meter check you have sufficient credit
  • Check if it is just the lights or sockets or if both are affected. If it is just the lights or just the sockets the problem will be confined to your home and it is possible that a fuse has blown
  • Check the fuse board; often fuses blow or with more modern fuse boards the fuse can "trip".

Persistent problems with fuses blowing may indicate a more serious electrical problem or a faulty appliance. In this case it is advisable to get an electrician to check the installation or contact your landlord if you rent your home. If the problem does relate to the electrical installation the owner may need to undertake repair work.

Flooding and electrical safety

There is advice and guidance about electrical safety following a flood in the flooding section below.

In addition a tenant’s checklist leaflet about electrical safety can be found at Electrical safety guidance and advice

Water supply problems in your home

Information in relation to mains water and spring water supplies can be found here.

Flooding problems in your home

Flooding and electrical safety

Do:

  • Make sure the property is safe before you enter
  • Try to avoid direct content with any water which remains. It may contaminated
  • Have a torch at hand when entering the property
  • Switch off the electricity supply at the fuse box, if it is safe to do so. If there is  evidence of water inside the fuse box or if there are signs of arcing or  overheating, seek professional advice
  • Unplug damaged electrical appliances and move all portable ones away from  the area affected by flooding
  • Arrange for other services, such as gas, to be switched off. Electricity and gas  supplies should not be turned back on until you have had professional advice  that it is safe to do so.

Don’t:

  • Use candles to guide you when entering the property
  • Use any mains powered electrical appliances in areas affected by flooding  until advised by a registered electrician that it is safe to do so
  • Go near any exposed wiring. It may still be live
  • Start to clean up or carry out repairs until you are sure it is safe to do so.

Cleaning up and making repairs

  • Contact your insurance company, and landlord if applicable, for advice and to get approval to carry out any repairs. Take photos of the damage and keep records
  • Seek professional advice about the restoration of your property and hire appropriate and qualified professionals to undertake the repair work
  • Use a registered electrician to assess the condition and damage to electrical wiring, equipment and appliances that have been affected by the flood.

Electrical safety advice after a flood

  • Do not attempt any electrical repairs or connection of temporary supplies yourself – always use a registered electrician
  • Arrange for a periodic inspection and test to be carried out on the property. The registered electrician will issue you with an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) which will identify the condition of the wiring and equipment in need of repair
  • All of the portable appliances affected by the flood will need to be tested to make sure that they are safe for continued use.
  • Fixed equipment, such as electric cookers, storage heaters, boilers etc. should also be tested
  • If the water damage to electrics is relatively minor and caused by clean water, i.e. a burst water pipe or tank, then it is likely that the registered electrician will just need to dry out cables and replace any accessories affected by the water (sockets, switches, plugs etc.)
  • If there is major flood damage to the electrics caused by clean or contaminated water, then it is likely that parts of the electrical installation will need to be rewired.
  • When rewiring is necessary, ask the registered electrician about the possibility of raising the height of the newly installed electrical equipment, including raising the fuse box and sockets to above any future expected flood level.

Here is Flooding advice about what to do in the event of a flood and cleaning up after a flood.

Heating and hot water problems in your home

Every home should have an adequate means of heating and an adequate supply of hot water.

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required whenever a property is built, sold or rented. An EPC contains information about a property’s energy use, typical energy costs and recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money.

Heating

There should be fixed heating in all areas of the property including the bathroom and kitchen to ensure a healthy temperature. The heating should be efficient and controllable.

There should be adequate insulation to the property, including loft and cavity wall insulation. Insulation helps to keep heat inside the property making it warm and reducing condensation. Dampness and draughts can make heating less effective and reduces the temperature.

The heating system should be regularly serviced and is subject to annual safety checks. For more information on gas safety checks see  Gas safety - tenants .

Sometimes radiators can become cooler at the top and this can indicate that there is air in the system. To remove the air bleed the radiator, using a special key available from your local DIY/hardware shop.

The use of portable LPG gas heaters is not recommended as they are a safety hazard and also produce a significant amount of moisture which can lead to condensation.

Hot water supply problems

Every home should have an adequate supply of hot water to the kitchen sink for cleaning and washing up, and to the bathroom wash basin, bath/shower for personal washing. This should be available using a gas central heating boiler or a hot water tank with an immersion heater which is efficient and controllable.

If your heating and/or hot water has broken down there may be a problem with the gas or electricity supply. Many appliances will not work during a power failure, even if they run off gas.

What you can do:

  • check the boiler is turned on and all the controls are at an appropriate setting
  • if you have a pre-payment meter, check there is credit available
  • check the bill has been paid, if the landlord is responsible for paying the bill check with them
  • know how to bleed the radiators
  • use a temporary means of heating such as plug-in electric heaters
  • If the problem is as a result of a failure with the heating or hot water system;
    • and you are a tenant then your landlord is responsible for resolving the problem. You should contact your landlord to inform them of the problem and agree when the work can be carried out. You should always give them the opportunity to resolve the problem before contacting us
    • If you are an owner-occupier it is your responsibility to fix the problem and you should contact a registered contractor.  Anyone who carries out work on gas appliances must be registered with Gas Safe

What we can do

  • If your landlord refuses to undertake any essential repair works we may be able to assist and you can contact Environmental Health.
     

Dampness in your home

Dampness is one of the major problems faced by home occupiers and can be caused by several factors such as condensation, rising dampness, penetrating dampness and leaking pipes.

Condensation

During the winter months, many properties suffer from damp and mould growth due to condensation.

Causes and signs of condensation

Air can hold moisture - the warmer the air, the more moisture it can hold. If moist air is cooled by contact with cold surfaces, such as walls, windows or mirrors, the moisture condenses into water droplets (condensation).

Mould often occurs because of condensation. It appears as pinpoint black spots, usually on the side surfaces of external walls, in corners and in poorly ventilated spaces, such as behind cupboards and wardrobes.

Principles of condensation control

The control of condensation requires a combination of sufficient heating, ventilation and insulation:

Sufficient heating + adequate ventilation + insulation = less condensation

Heating

By introducing low level heating, the temperature of internal surfaces will rise. This will reduce cooling of any moisture-laden air and, consequently, the amount of condensation. Ideally, low level background heating should be continuous, as any short bursts of heat may not result in a suitable rise in surface temperatures.

Insulation

Thermal insulation, such as loft or cavity wall insulation, draught proofing and double glazing, will help to reduce the amount of heat lost from a property. This will not only help keep internal room temperatures higher, but will also help keep fuel bills down.

Ventilation

Adequate ventilation is essential to allow moisture-laden air to escape from the home before condensation occurs. Mechanical extract ventilation systems in the kitchen and bathroom can prove very effective in reducing condensation, especially when fitted with an effective humidistat control.

Extreme cases

  • a dehumidifier, which extracts moisture from the air, can be bought or hired
  • wipe down surfaces affected by condensation regularly, to prevent mould growth
  • mould can be removed by washing the surface with a disinfectant or a fungicidal wash. This must be used in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.
  • mould-inhibiting paints and sprays can also help to reduce the effects of condensation.

How to reduce condensation

  • pull wardrobes and furniture away from walls, and keep tops of wardrobes clear, to allow air to circulate
  • close doors and open windows when cooking
  • keep lids on saucepans when cooking
  • keep bathroom doors closed when bathing, and open windows slightly afterwards
  • do not dry clothes on radiators, unless ventilation is increased
  • only use Liquid Petroleum Gas or paraffin heaters in ventilated rooms, as these fuels produce water vapour during combustion

Rising dampness

Rising damp normally occurs in properties which either have not been built with a damp proof course (DPC) or where the DPC has failed. The most obvious signs of rising damp are a brown "tidemark" on the wall and the plaster below feeling cold or damp to the touch. Rising damp can affect any wall in contact with the ground and therefore can affect internal as well as external walls. It does not normally rise above about a metre in height.

Penetrating damp

Penetrating damp can affect almost any location in the home and is usually the result of a building or plumbing fault allowing water to enter into the property. Building faults commonly encountered giving rise to penetration dampness are leaking flashings to the chimney, leaking roofs or back to earth properties with no vertical damp proof course.

A brown stain normally occurs on the affected surface, which grows in size as more water penetrates. If the fault is not rectified, plaster will start to perish and in the case of ceilings, could even collapse. If you think you have a problem with penetrating damp, you should have the fault repaired as soon as possible.

What you can do

  • If the damp problem is as a result of condensation follow the advice above
  • If the damp problem is as a result of penetrating or rising dampness and you are a tenant then your landlord is responsible for resolving the problem. You should contact your landlord to inform them of the problem and agree when the work can be carried out. You should always give them the opportunity to resolve the problem before contacting us
  • If you are an owner occupier and need a contractor, it is advisable to contact someone registered with a recognised trade body or contact TrustMark
  • If you suspect that your home is affected by rising damp, you should have the property surveyed by a contractor who is either registered with the TrustMark scheme or a member of the British Timber Treatment and Damp Proofing Association, whose members are usually listed in Yellow Pages

What we can do

If your landlord refuses to undertake any essential repair works we may be able to assist and you can contact Environmental Health.

Leaks in your home

Slow leaks can go unnoticed for long periods of time and can sometimes lead to wood rot, which if left untreated in severe cases can cause structural problems.

Leaks usually cause a patch of dampness close to the place that is leaking, with the edge of the damp patch appearing as a tidemark. Slow leaks can lead to peeling wallpaper, crumbling plaster and mould growth. Large leaks and burst pipes can also cause ceilings to bulge or even collapse.

Water leaking into the property from outside, e.g. as a result of a leaking roof or defective guttering and drainpipes, or inside the property from leaking water pipes or fixtures, will cause dampness.

If the leak is on your mains water supply at your water meter or between your house and the boundary of your property (your service pipe), you or your landlord is usually responsible for repairing it.

Water leaking anywhere near electrical sockets/light fittings etc. is unsafe as it can cause electric shocks.

In the event of an emergency, for example a burst pipe or an urgent leak that is affecting the safety of the electrics, you should take steps yourself such as turning off the water at the main supply tap and turning off the electrics.

What you can do

  • you can help identify the cause of the leak by noting whether it is worse when it rains, or when you take a shower
  • if you are an owner-occupier it is your responsibility to fix the problem and you should contact a reputable plumber
  • if you are a tenant, your landlord is responsible for fixing the problem. Inform them and agree when the work can be carried out and give them the opportunity to resolve the problem before contacting us
  • if the leak is a water burst outside the property boundary you should contact Yorkshire Water .

If your pipes are burst or frozen follow these steps:

  • turn the water supply off at the stop tap. It is probably located near the kitchen sink
  • turn the cold taps ON (save some water for drinking)
  • make sure the sink and bath plugs are out
  • turn the immersion heater and central heating OFF if you have them. If you have a solid fuel boiler, let the fire die out
  • turn the hot taps ON
  • if there is water near the lights or sockets, turn the electricity off at the meter
  • catch leaks in buckets and soak up water with towels to prevent water damaging your home
  • if you rent your home, ring your landlord or agent immediately. If you own your home, ring a plumber
  • if your pipes are frozen very gentle warm the pipes with a hair dryer starting from the end nearest the tap.

Drainage

For information about drainage to properties please visit: Drainage and sewers

Doors and windows

If you are a tenant then it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that external doors and windows are in a good state of repair. They should be fitted with suitable draught proofing and adequate locks.

Windows should be capable of being opened and closed properly, stay open safely, be fitted with locks and you should be provided with a key. External doors should be fitted with 5 lever mortice lock and be capable of being easily opened and closed.

If the property has wooden frames they should be in a reasonable state of repair. If they are rotten and beyond repair then they should be replaced by your landlord. Building Regulations require them to be double glazed but they can be wooden or PVC. Double glazed windows are filled with gas and sealed so normal air cannot get in; however sometimes seals can break and moist air can enter and cause condensation or misting. This does not normally require a complete replacement of the frames.

If windows or doors are damaged as a result of your actions then normally you will be responsible for repairing them. It is advisable to notify your landlord beforehand. If the damage is a result of someone trying to break into the property then normally the landlord should arrange a temporary repair immediately.

What you can do

  • If your windows and/or doors are in a bad state of repair contact your landlord and ask for them to be repaired or replaced
  • If they are draughty ask your landlord to fit suitable draught proofing

What we can do

  • If your landlord refuses to undertake any essential repairs to windows or doors we may be able to assist and you can contact Environmental Health.

Fire precautions

If a fire breaks out in your home, do not try to tackle the fire yourself, leave the property and get everybody out as soon as possible and call 999.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service undertake Home Fire Safety Checks. These involve giving practical common sense advice about reducing the risk of fire and practical advice about escaping a fire should one occur in your home. They also fit free smoke alarms.

If you rent your home it is the landlord’s responsibility for ensuring certain safety obligations are met, including ensuring gas and electrical appliances are safe and in good working order. Your landlord should show you safety certificates so you can see when these appliances were last inspected.

Depending on the type of property you rent your landlord may be responsible for carrying out a fire risk assessment and providing appropriate fire precautions. These may include:

  • smoke alarms
  • fire doors
  • exit doors
  • escape windows and/or
  • emergency lighting

For more information and guidance read the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACoRS) document:  Fire Safety Guidance .

The Council together with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has signed up to the West Yorkshire Fire Safety Protocol. This document sets out enforcement responsibilities between the two organisations for various types of residential premises in relation to fire safety.

What you can do

  • fit smoke alarms on every level and ensure they are tested regularly
  • take care when cooking
  • ensure the escape route from your property is free of obstructions and kept clear at all times
  • do not overload electrical sockets
  • if you smoke, ensure you extinguish your cigarettes properly

What we can do

  • If your landlord refuses to undertake any essential fire safety works we may be able to assist and you can contact Environmental Health.

Structural issues

If you are concerned about any building or structure that presents an imminent risk to public safety you can report it to Building Control:

They can only deal with buildings or structures, or parts that are in danger of falling, that present a serious and immediate threat to public safety. Other structural problems should be reported to the owner of the building or structure.

If you rent a property then it is the responsibility of the landlord to undertake any external structural repairs. Tenants are usually responsible for internal decoration and for making sure fixtures, fittings, contents and furniture are not damaged because of your negligence.

What you can do

  • You should contact your landlord in the first instance with regard to structural defects and give them the opportunity to resolve the problem before contacting us

What we can do

  • If your landlord refuses to undertake any essential structural repair works we may be able to assist and you can contact Environmental Health.

Overcrowding

You may think your accommodation is too small for your household but legally it still may not be classed as overcrowded.

There are rules about the number of people who can stay in a room and the amount of space they have. Details about overcrowding can be found at Shelter .

If you think you may be living in overcrowded conditions you may consider moving to a larger private rented property or applying for housing association accommodation.