LAWLINK – Landlord refuses to do house repairs, what are my rights?

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Q. I have been renting a house in a rural location for about 8 years. The house is not in great condition. The rent is affordable, so I have not made any requests for repairs from the landlord over the past few years. However, now the house is falling into pretty bad condition. Some of the appliances are broken and the house is very cold in winter as the boiler appears to be on the blink. I’m not sure I’ll be able to spend another winter here. I verbally asked the landlord on several occasions to fix the appliances and also the boiler. He didn’t agree to anything and I have heard nothing since. I then sent a text to the landlord saying that I may have to move out if the property wasn’t upgraded to habitable standard. Do I have any recourse here?

Dear Reader,

Firstly, I assume that your landlord is registered with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), as he is obliged by law to be.

With regard to the condition and state of repair of the property, the landlord has obligations under the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008 and the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 to keep the property in a reasonable state of repair and must meet minimum standards.

These standards include that the building must be free from damp, in good structural repair, and be adequately heated and ventilated. Hot and cold water must be available, and all appliances, electrical wiring, gas and water pipes must be in good working order. It appears that your accommodation is not meeting these minimum standards at the moment.

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Local authorities are responsible for enforcing these standards and carry out regular inspections of rented accommodation. You should initially make a request to the landlord to carry out repairs, pointing out his obligations and the repairs that are needed.

I’d advise that you do this in writing. If no remedial action is taken, then you could contact the housing section of the Council and ask them to deal with it. Contact with the PRTB might also be useful.

The landlord must appreciate that a minimum basic standard of rented accommodation is obligatory, and I would suggest upon writing to him that you point this out.

It might be useful to also say that you don’t wish to involve the PTRB or the Council, but you might have no option if he is going to refuse to do any upgrading to the property.