Some top tips for private tenants on legal rights ...

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ARE you a private tenant living in poor housing conditions?

Here are some top tips to help you understand your legal rights and work out what action you might want to take.

As a tenant, you have the right to have the structure of your home kept in good repair by your landlord.

Heating and hot water systems must also be kept in working order. Details about repair responsibilities are usually set out in a written tenancy agreement.

There may be several ways of getting repairs or improvements done if you need them.

But you should always check what type of agreement you have with your landlord before you complain about housing conditions.

Your landlord may try to evict you if you ask for repairs to be carried out so you need to know how easy it would be for them to do this.

If in doubt, get advice from an experienced adviser at your local housing aid centre, law centre Citizens Advice Bureau.

The first step to getting repairs done is usually to talk to your landlord.

It may be worth trying to negotiate with them, even if they do not have a legal duty to carry out a repair.

Put your request in writing and keep a copy. If talking to your landlord doesn’t work, don’t just stop paying your rent.

You don’t have the right to withhold rent and you shouldn’t do this to try to force your landlord to do repairs. Your landlord could take legal action against you for rent arrears and you could lose your home.

If your property is in poor condition, your landlord may have broken the tenancy agreement or the law in not carrying out repairs.

This means you may be able to take court action against them.

But it’s really important to get advice first, in case your landlord tries to evict you.

If you do decide you want to take court action, you will need to give your landlord written notice of the repairs that need doing and you won’t be able to start court action until you have given your landlord reasonable time to carry out the repairs.

If you think the condition of the property is either affecting your health or causing a nuisance to others, you should complain to the Environmental Health Department of your local council.

They should investigate and they have the power to order your landlord to do the necessary repairs.

Local councils also have a duty to take action against a landlord if they consider that housing conditions are not acceptable for people to live in.

CAB adviceline 08444 111444 or 0300 3300 650 (mobile) For online advice visit www.adviceguide.org.uk

Your local CAB is in Market Square, Thame.