RENTERS and landlords can now use a new free tool to decide who is responsible for forking out for repairs.
The government has unveiled an online legal checker that helps tenants and landlords understand who should pick up the bill when something is broken, in a bid to get issues resolved amicably.
Getting your deposit back from a landlord when you are moving out of a property can be stressful.
The tenant fees ban in 2019 capped security deposits at five weeks of rent.
Landlords and agents can no longer charge tenants for services such as referencing or viewings but they can make deductions from a deposit for damage to the property.
They usually need to provide evidence of the costs of repair and cleaning.
Deductions from your deposit can make it harder to put money down for a new place and can cause disputes with a landlord.
Figures from The Dispute Service, which runs schemes that look after tenant deposits for landlords, showed that just 16% of renters got their full downpayment back last year.
Landlords kept money back for cleaning, damage and redecoration.
Your rights if a landlord won’t carry out repairs
IF a landlord is taking unreasonably long to carry out repairs then tenants can take them to court.
Of course, most tenants would rather not take this action and work things out between themselves.
If a tenant does need to do this then they apply to the local county court.
The court can force a landlord to carry out a fix and pay compensation.
If the court finds in favour of the the tenant then the landlord could be liable for some or all of the legal costs.
Tenants are also able to complain to Environmental Health or a relevant landlord association, but only if their landlord is a member.
For more advice, visit the Citizens Advice website.
You can also take legal action against your landlord under the Fitness for Human Habitation Act if disrepair or poor conditions are damaging your health.
Courts can grant an injunction forcing the landlord to carry out works or award compensation to the renter.
But you will have to stump up for court fees unless you're entitled to free legal aid.
If you win your case, you might also get some of your costs back.
Alternatively, you may get a payout by complaining to the Housing Ombudsman.
Renters can also complain to a redress scheme if you rent privately through a letting agent, but only if the agent contributed to the dispute.
Different rules are in place for renters in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Visit Citizens Advice Scotland and Northern Ireland Direct for more information.
The Ministry of Justice is trying to help private renters and landlords in England and Wales avoid disputes over repairs and ultimately help tenants keep as much of their deposit as possible.
The government department is trialling an online questionnaire that helps tenants find out how to get something fixed by their landlord or letting agent and what to do if no-one is responding to your requests.
Guidance can be found for issues such as boiler failures, faulty appliances and damp or mice problems.
For example, one option is to check your rights if there is damp or mould in the property.
The tool features tickboxes that can be selected to identify the problem and tenants are then asked if they have contacted their landlord or agent and if they are worried about getting evicted if they raise a concern.
You will be asked if it has caused any health problems and if you have contacted your landlord or agent.
Tenants are asked if they have stopped paying rent and are advised to carry on as this can make the problem worse.
Once you complete the questionnaire, you will be directed to a page with links that can help with your issues.
Renters can follow links to webpages from Gov.uk and Shelter showing what to do it an issue is urgent or damaging their health.
These include how to write to you local council as they have an obligation to make sure people are renting properties kept in a good state of repair by landlords.
There are also links to support on your rights to request repairs and Shelter guides on action you can take if your landlord or lettings agent isn't responding.
Justice Minister Lord Wolfson said: "We are committed to ensuring that people have access to early legal support as it is vital that problems are resolved before they escalate.
"This pilot will help us understand the role of early legal support and how this can be designed around what works for people who need it."
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