Complaining about housing conditions
Covid-19 has created a challenge for everyone, as we practice social distancing government measures, we must take into consideration how we could potentially spread the virus and if that risk outweighs the risks caused by disrepair. We must also ensure that serious disrepair is still addressed and that people are not put at unfair serious risk of harm.
When you feel there is cause to make a disrepair complaint, firstly, please ensure that you have notified your landlord yourself, in writing (text or email is fine) and given your landlord a reasonable amount of time to fix it. Please find below a link to some examples letters that can be used to send to your landlord.
If your landlord has not reasonably responded to your serious disrepair complaint, and you feel you are at risk of harm, you should contact our duty officer and report the matter. You can contact us here.
During this time, landlords are still required to carry out essential works such as water supply, safe electricity and gas supplies, fire safety, drainage problems, pest control and heating failure.
Please take photos and videos of the disrepair. The duty officer will ask you to email or message these to us. This will enable us to be able to assess the situation and assist you, without putting you or our officers at potential harm of virus transmission.
You will probably need to allow access to your property at some point to let urgent works be completed, or for less urgent matters, you may need to take steps to manage the disrepair yourself until is it safe to assist you. Where you need to allow access, you will need to vacate areas to allow workmen to safely carry out work without breaching distancing requirements. Landlords, their representatives and tradespeople are expected to follow advice on social distancing (also known as physical distancing).
Sandwell Council still has an obligation to assist you if your landlord does not reasonable respond to your disrepair complaints and we continue to take enforcement action against landlords who do not meet their legal obligations. All non-essential work and repairs will not be required to be carried out during this time. However please still report any issues via the link below so a record can be kept and the works carried out when the risk of coronavirus has been reduced.
We investigate and assess poor housing conditions in privately rented accommodation. We may be able to use housing law to sort out problems.
There are extensive duties and powers in Housing Acts which the council has the right to use to intervene or enter private properties to take legal action if necessary.
Every year the team investigates over 800 complaints about poor housing conditions in the private rented sector.
If you wish to complain about a rented property which has fallen into disrepair please be aware that:
- Making a complaint to the council regarding disrepair will not give you any legal protection against any ongoing eviction proceedings
- the landlord will have to be made aware of the complaint
- the landlord will be informed of any inspections carried out
- we can only help you improve your current housing conditions
- we have no bearing on any application you may have for council housing
- we cannot take action for damp / mould issues resulting from condensation which is due to lifestyle. Please refer to the condensation leaflet for further guidance
Before we can take any action about a property which has fallen into disrepair, the following steps must have been taken:
- Inform your landlord you must ensure that the unsatisfactory conditions you wish to complain about fall under the landlords' responsibility to repair, and that the conditions are not a result of your lifestyle. You must inform your landlord, verbally and in writing listing the defects that require attention.
You may wish to use this example letter template for tenants requesting for repairs to a landlord. It is important that you keep a copy of your letter for your records.
- Inform your landlord for a second time if no action has been taken by the landlord to the first letter within a reasonable timescale (28 days), then a second letter can be sent to your landlord the second letter gives the landlord a further 14 days to address the issues.
You may wish to use this example letter template for a tenants second request for repairs to a landlord. Again, ensure you keep a copy of the letter for your records.
- Contact us if still no action is taken
Once these first two steps have been taken, and the landlord has not been in contact or completed the works, contact us through our customer portal. We will arrange for an officer to contact you and if necessary carry out an inspection of the property.
When contacting us, ensure that you provide the following information:
- your name
- your address
- your phone number
- number and ages of occupants
- type of benefits, if any, you claim
- date your tenancy began
- name of the landlord/letting agent
- address of the landlord/letting agent
- phone number of the landlord/letting agent
- types of disrepair issues.
Failure to provide all the details above may delay your complaint.
Important: If you have not taken steps one and two, we may not be able to take action, inspect the property or use our legal powers.