I live in a property that I rent privately and there is a minor issue with water leaking in through the ceiling in the bathroom. I am having problems getting this sorted. Can you help?

I live in a property that I rent privately and there is a minor issue with water leaking in through the ceiling in the bathroom. I am having problems getting this sorted. Can you help?

I am sorry to hear that you are having an ongoing issue with repairs in your home. It is important that you report the problem to your landlord as soon as possible, even if it is a relatively very minor issue.

If the repair is urgent, you should report this by phoning them to make sure the work is carried out as quickly as possible, and then follow this up in writing.

Finding your landlord's address

If you do not know their address, you can search for it on the Scottish Landlord Register. 

If you rent from a letting agent, they should be able to tell you the name and address of the person responsible when you request this in writing.

Writing to the landlord

You should ask them what will be done about the problem, and when the repairs will be carried out. If the issues are affecting your health, it is important to highlight this, sending a copy of a doctor’s note as evidence if you have one.

Repairs should be carried out by your landlord within a reasonable timeframe. There are no fixed time limits for repairs and the length of time that is reasonable depends on the type of repair.

This didn't work - what can I do?

If the repairs have not been carried out after a reasonable period, there are several things you can do.

Before deciding what action to take, you need to think about how easily you can be evicted; how serious the problem is; and whether you want to continue to stay in the property or not.

Some landlords may prefer to make you leave rather than do repairs, and private tenants with short tenancies can be evicted easily.

There might be a risk that they will try to illegally evict or harass you if you try to force them to carry out repairs. These are criminal offences, and if you think they are guilty of either, you can take further action.

Additionally, if the problems with your accommodation are relatively minor, or can be seen to be improvements, it might be difficult to force them to act.

If you are reasonably secure in your tenancy and do not want to move out, you may be able to force them to carry out the repairs. 

How do I do this?

Firstly, write to them and warn them that you will be taking further steps. There are several things you can do, and the most appropriate course of action depends on your circumstances, what repairs are needed, and your tenancy type.

If something needs to be repaired and your landlord is refusing to cooperate, you can apply to the First-Tier Tribunal for Scotland. The tribunal can order them to carry out repairs or make a rent relief order to reduce your rent if they do not.

There are other options available, including withholding rent or taking them to court, but these steps can be risky, and you should seek further specialist advice before doing this.

Advice Direct Scotland can provide information and support on a range of issues, including housing and further information on what you can do if these initial steps do not work.

I hope this helps and you get the issues resolved.

You can access free, impartial advice on any topic from advice.scot by contacting 0808 800 9060 or by visiting www.advice.scot.

Advice is available to everyone in Scotland, at no cost, regardless of personal circumstance.