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Useful Phrases for Dealing with Your English-Speaking Landlord

When you’re renting a flat or house anywhere in the world, there will be times when things go wrong and you need to call your landlord. If you’re renting somewhere to live in an English-speaking country, that means, of course, that you need to have the conversation in English! At this point, you might realise that you’re missing the vocabulary you need to explain common issues your landlord needs to deal with.

Let’s take a look at a some everyday phrases that might come in handy.


1. There is a leak

If something is leaking, it means that water is coming out of it. For example, a pipe might be leaking (another way to say this is “A pipe has burst”).

If you say “there is a leak” it means that water is coming from somewhere but you’re not entirely sure what is broken. You can just see the water coming in through a wall, ceiling or something else.

This is a really urgent problem as water leaks can do a lot of damage to a house and to your possessions. Your landlord won’t be happy if you wait too long before you tell her/him about it. 


2. The XXX isn’t working

Sometimes you don’t know if an item in the apartment has completely broken, is having a small problem, or if you have made a mistake when using it! For that reason it’s usually better to say “the washing machine isn’t working!” or “I can’t get the shower to work” rather than “The dishwasher is broken”.

Saying that something is “broken” sounds like an expensive problem to your landlord and they might panic.


3. Can you replace the…

If something stops working that is part of the flat, or is in communal areas (as in, the areas you share), your landlord usually needs to deal with it. If they own the building they can take care of it themselves. If not, there might be a specific person they need to call who looks after the building.

Examples of things you can expect your landlord to replace are lights in communal areas (the staircase, corridor, etc.) and electronics that came with the house and have now stopped working (e.g. the washing machine).

If you break something, like a window, or need to change the locks, tell them – they might do this for you, but they might ask you to pay for it. Either way, they’ll want to know.


4. I need to complain about the neighbours

It’s usually better to deal with problems with neighbours yourself. When speaking to them, don’t be rude or aggressive. You can say something like: “I have to get up for work at 5am and the walls are very thin – would it be possible to keep the noise down after 9pm?” or “You have parked in front of my car and I can’t get out.” Starting with something like, “I don’t think you did this on purpose, but…” or “You probably didn’t realise, but -” makes it clear you’re not trying to start a fight!

If you’ve already tried being polite/explaining the problem and they are still driving you crazy, ask your landlord for help! It helps if you give a short, simple explanation (e.g. “They are very noisy late at night and I can’t sleep” or “They leave their rubbish in the hallway and it attracts rats.”) and explain that you have already tried speaking to them.


Most of the time, you can solve problems with a few useful English phrases, but occasionally you might get a difficult landlord that doesn’t want to help. Always make sure your rental agreement or contract clearly states what they should do if there is a problem and how quickly they will do it! If you have it in writing, it should be fine.


Struggling to find the right words to explain a difficult problem? Improve your English with our range of excellent courses at www.Eurocentres.com