Earlier this month the Stroud News and Journal published guidance on how to get urgent home repairs carried out safely has been issued to those in rented accommodation and council houses.
The ongoing lockdown won’t stop any unexpected problems happening in your home. In fact, increased usage of certain appliances may make them more likely to break down or develop issues. As a result, social distancing has made arranging repairs more complicated than usual.
This means it is unlikely you’ll be able to get any non-urgent repairs made to your rented home during the lockdown period. Non-urgent repairs might include minor issues with doors, or repairs to plaster work.
Repairs that constitute an “emergency” usually include anything that is putting the health, safety or security of household members at risk – such as a total loss of electricity, blocked toilets, or the smell or presence of gas or carbon monoxide.
Most councils will be operating an emergency-only repairs system during the lockdown period, and will often have a list of what constitutes an “emergency” repair on their website. You should, however, check with your local council to see what their coronavirus policy is regarding repairs.
It’s likely that most contractors will have their own safety measures in place while carrying out work during lockdown, including using gloves or, in some cases, wearing personal protective equipment while carrying out repairs.
Responsibility for repairs has not changed as a result of the coronavirus crisis. If you make a request for an emergency repair and you have not heard back, you should follow up the request to make sure they have received and understood it. You should give them a reasonable deadline to respond based on the urgency of the issue.
For tenants living in council housing, Shelter has guidance on how to begin a complaints process. Photos, correspondence and other evidence can be useful for backing up your complaint. In some cases, you can take legal action if you can’t get the repairs you need. However, Shelter recommends this only as a last resort, as it usually costs a lot of time and money.