When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Responsibility for housing association repairs

Check your tenancy agreement to find out what you are responsible for repairing in your home and what your landlord is required to fix.

You’ll be responsible for dealing with many of the repairing issues in your home.  Tenants are responsible for decorating the inside of the property, including carpeting and flooring and you’ll also be responsible for looking after your garden.  Your landlord will usually deal with any structural problems or faults with the heating, plumbing and electrical systems. 

Check your tenancy agreement and tenant’s handbook if you’re not sure who is responsible for repairs.  If you’re vulnerable and unable to manage the repairs on your own your landlord might help you.  Call Housing Rights if you’re being asked to do repairs which you can’t physically manage.

Your landlord’s repairing responsibilities

Your housing association will usually be responsible for sorting out problems with the following items.  If you, or someone visiting your house, has caused the damage you might have to fix it yourself.

Most housing associations will ensure that their homes meet the Decent Homes Standard. 

Decent homes standard

In order to meet the Decent Homes Standard, a property must

  • meet the minimum fitness standard
  • be in a reasonable state of repair
  • have reasonably modern facilities (e.g. bathroom must be no more than 30 years old, kitchen must be no more than 20 years old)
  • provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort (meaning there is sufficient provision for heating and insulation)

You can complain to your housing association if you feel that your home does not meet this standard. 

Outside the property

  • Repairs to the walls, roof, chimney, gutters, drains of the property
  • Repairs to external doors
  • Repairs to external windows, but not replacing the glass
  • Repairs to any paths, fences, walls or gates that it has provided
  • Decorating the outside of your home every seven years
  • Replacing your bin every seven years if it has been damaged through normal use

Structural issues inside the property

  • Repairs to walls, staircases and any structural woodwork
  • Sorting out timber rot
  • Repairs to damaged tiles, if they were installed by the landlord
  • Repairs to skirting boards and windowsills

Electrical problems

  • Repairs to wiring
  • Repairs to any electrical appliances that the landlord installed
  • Repairs to ceiling roses
  • Repairs to sockets and switches

Your landlord won’t repair appliances that it hasn’t installed.  If you move into a house where the previous owner installed a shower system, you’ll be responsible for sorting out any problems that develop with it.

Cooking, heating and plumbing

  • Repairs to solid fuel cookers or stoves installed by the landlord
  • Repairs to room heaters
  • Repairs to fire surrounds
  • Repairs to pipes and radiators
  • Repairs to boilers
  • Clearing blocked sewers
  • Clearing blocked drains as long as the blockage isn’t caused by blocked gratings

Doors and windows

  • Repairs to window frames
  • Repairs to defective doors or door frames
  • Repairs to letterboxes
  • Repairs to hinges, locks and handles on your outside doors.

What repairs are tenants responsible for?

You’ll be expected to sort out most other problems in your home.  If you’re not able to manage the repairs, call Housing Rights for advice on what you can do. 

You are responsible for:

  • Maintaining your garden
  • Decorating the inside of your home
  • Cleaning out your drains, gully traps and gratings
  • Sweeping your chimney
  • Repairs to internal plaster cracks
  • Repairs to electrical appliances you have installed, including cookers
  • Changing doorbells, plugs and fuses
  • Repairs to the front piece and basket of open fires
  • Repairing hinges, locks and handles on inside doors
  • Repairs to any furniture
  • Replacing broken glass
  • Draught proofing your doors and windows
  • Replacing washers on taps, plugs and plug chains on baths and sinks
  • Clearing air locks in your pipes
  • Replacing cracked baths, sinks and toilets unless the damage was caused by normal wear and tear or because the item was installed incorrectly

If the Police Service of NI confirms that your windows were damaged in a riot or as an act of vandalism your landlord may replace them for you.

Living in poor housing

The standard of your home shouldn’t damage your health.  If you’re living in a property which is unfit and your landlord won’t do anything, you can ask the Environmental Health Department of your local council to inspect the property.

You should get in touch with Housing Rights to find out what you can do if your house is in bad condition and your housing association isn’t doing enough to help you.