I’ve had a serious leak in the property I’m renting, and had to move out because the water was coming through the lights, so the water, and electricity had to be turned off.

The landlord has requested a plumber when the problem happened to come over, and investigate the problem. He left saying: “I have no idea what happened”. Next day, another guy - “someone” just to quote what the landlord said - came over, left with the same result. Nothing happened for 8 days, and then, at 3rd of September another investigator came, who also left with: “I don’t know”.

He's just asking for the property management company, and... they repaired the lift in 2 months, so not much hopes.

As I’ve read, in the UK law, the landlord must carry out repairs in a reasonable period of time. Not too sure if carry out means completing the works, or just starting the process, but if he chooses the cheapest slowest workers, it may end up even one year, and I’ll have to live in a hotel for that long just because the landlord says: “there wasn’t any delay on my side”.

So when can I sue the landlord for disrepair - not fixing the problems in time?

1 Answer 1


Pretty much any time a contractual, statutory or case law precedent uses the word "reasonable" what it means is that the decision regarding what is and is not reasonable is vested in the trier of fact (i.e. the judge in a U.K. landlord-tenant case) to decide on a case by case basis in light of all of the facts and circumstances presented at trial, rather something to be decided as a matter of law by an appellate court absent of extreme abuse of discretion by the judge in determining what is reasonable.

Put yourself in the judge's shoes and consider the range of opinion that people who are judges in a case like this might have, and you have your answer.

A reasonable amount of time balances out factors like the availability of repair contractors at a reasonable price, the magnitude of the repair, and the extent to which the repair impairs the habitability of the premises, and assumes a time frame that would apply if the landlord is diligent and trying to solve the problem in good faith. A reasonable time to fix a broken heating element is different in July than in January.

If three different inspectors failed to determine the cause of the problem, that is going to work in favor of the landlord for a longer period of time. So will the significant extent of the damage (apparently). On the other hand, the fact that the repair rendered the premises completely uninhabitable argues for a shorter time period.

Starting late to address an urgent problem could be breach, although it doesn't sound like this has happened here if some action has been taken that would seem to be reasonable under the circumstances and the results have been inconclusive about what to do. Unnecessary foot dragging could also be a fact in reasonableness, because ultimately the duty is to get the job done.

There may also be a parallel duty of the landlord to provide a habitable premises and to compensate you for time when this is not provided, in addition to the duty to repair within a reasonable time. Asking to be paid for alternative accommodations while diagnosis and repairs are underway would be a logical demand to make before suing for a fairly small dollar amount in an ongoing lease.

You would probably focus on failure to repair in a reasonable time more if you seek to terminate the lease entirely and rent elsewhere instead in the face of repair delays, hoping to avoid the duty to pay rent for the remainder of the lease term due to the landlord's breach of the duty to repair under the lease.

  • He gave written permission for me to not pay the rent until the works are done, however, I'm not feeling it as a balanced compensation. I was working from home as a software developer, I can't perform my work effectively from a hotel room (which is even more expensive). I can't cook, make coffee, wash my laundry for myself, so I have to decide if I keep with my budget, extremely decreasing my life quality, or keep the quality, for twice amount of money. Either way, I'm having losses out of my fault, that's why I'm frustrated about this situation, not sure if legal action would worth it. Commented Sep 7, 2020 at 21:14

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