The starting point for this is to look at the tenancy agreement and see what that says about maintaining the premises and the contents. You need to read this and see if any of the terms have been broken.
If there are any terms setting out duties like “to keep the house in good repair” or “fit to live in” then this will extend your rights to repair beyond what is set out below which deals with the general duties imposed by law on all landlords.
In law, there is no general duty on a landlord to repair or to ensure that the dwelling is habitable
But s 11 of the Landlord and tenant Act 1985 implies obligations into all tenancies of less than seven years. These obligations are absolute and cannot be excluded and are set out below
1. To keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling (including drains, gutters and external pipes)
2. To keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling for the supply of water gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for the making use of the supply of water gas or electricity)
3. To keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling for space heating and heating water
The problems you refer to are:
- Broken cupboards
- Dilapidated shed full of rubbish
- Blocked drain
- Broken gas fire
- Broken electrical appliances
- Mildew on sofa
- Missing fences to the back garden
I suspect most of these were present when the tenancy was entered into.
On the assumption that the tenancy agreement does not grant any extra rights it looks like some of these problems would fit within s11. In particular the blocked drain and broken gas fire (esp if a fitted gas fire) would fit.
Is there any damp? I ask this because f there is mildew on the furniture this may be as a result of damp. Damp, if it is caused by a defect to the structure and exterior, will also be in breach of s 11.
As far as the other problems are concerned, in the absence of increased rights in the tenancy agreement I do not think there is any right to have these repaired or for compensation for the disrepair.
What to do about this? You should write and complain putting the landlord/agent on notice of all the disrepair and requiring that it be remedied. You can threaten legal proceedings but I fear that here is not much in legal terms that can be done. The compensation for these breaches will be very low and will accrue over time. Your son cannot treat the tenancy as ended unless the condition is so bad that the basic purpose of the tenancy is defeated. It does not sound as if things are that bad. If your son were to leave then you could be liable for rent until the property is re-let. With a property like this one that could be some time.
I am not sure what your aim is here. If it is to try and get the place fixed up then a threat to bring legal action may be effective in this. If the aim is to get away from the place then a threat to bring legal action followed by an offer of mutually ending the tenancy with a return of deposit may be effective.
Also, do you know if the deposit is held in a deposit guarantee scheme? The landlord has to put the deposit in one and a failure to do so may give your son rights to extra compensation.
The landlord has a duty to carry out a gas safety check every 12 months. But again in the absence of actual danger I fear there is not much that can be done about that. It is however worth adding to the complaints in your letter.
Any legal actions or threats of legal actions will make it likely your son will be evicted at the end of the tenancy. That may not be a matter of great concern.
I hope this answer is helpful although I suspect it is not the answer you were hoping for. Please feel free to ask further questions.