What to do if your landlord refuses to do repairs
This content applies to England only.
Housing laws vary between England and Scotland. Get advice relating to Scotland
If your landlord is ignoring your requests for repair work to be done or taking too long to start or complete the work, there are steps you can take to try to get repairs done.
Tell your landlord that repairs are needed
Landlords are only responsible for repairs that they have been told about – use our sample letter to let your landlord know that repairs are needed and remember to give your landlord a reasonable time to start doing the repairs.
Contact your landlord again
If you haven't received a reply to your first request for repairs, contact your landlord again. Use our sample letter telling the landlord about repairs still not done.
Gather information about repairs needed
You should keep a record of the repairs and your efforts to get the landlord to sort them. Having as much information as possible will help if you need to make a complaint.
Evidence could include:
- photographs of what needs repairing
- copies of letters or emails you have sent to your to your landlord
- receipts for any items you've had to buy to replace damaged items, for example clothing or furniture
- doctors’ notes, if the disrepair has been harmful to your health or the health of someone else in your household
- other professional reports or bills if appropriate, for example if you've had to pay for pest control or get a surveyor to check for damp.
Tell your landlord you're contacting the council
If a reasonable amount of time has passed, and your landlord is refusing to do repairs, write again to say that you'll be asking the council to check if your home is safe to live in.
Use our sample letter to ask your landlord again for repairs to be done and to say that you'll be contacting the council.
Ask the council for help to get repairs done
If your landlord ignores or refuses your request to carry out necessary repairs, contact your local council and explain the situation. They should be able to offer help and advice, and can try to negotiate with your landlord to do repairs.
Use our sample letter to tell the council about possible hazards in your home.
The council also has the legal power to inspect your home (for hazards and deficiencies under the HHSRS) and then serve a ‘notice’ on the landlord to make them do the repair work.
If your landlord does not do the repair work needed in time set by the council, it can take the landlord to court or do the repair then get payment from the landlord.
However, if the council doesn't think the repair problem is causing danger to the health and safety of your household, it might not take any further action.
Get advice if the council has told you it can't help you – use our directory to find a local advice centre.
Do the repairs yourself and deduct the cost from your rent
You do not have the right to withhold the rent, even if your landlord is refusing to do repairs. If you don't pay your rent, the landlord might try to evict you.
However, in certain circumstances, and if you have strong tenancy rights (for example if you are an assured or regulated tenant) it may be possible for you to arrange for the repairs to be done and then deduct the cost from your rent.
If the landlord has failed to do the repairs that he's legally required to do, and as long as you follow the correct procedure, you can do the repair yourself and deduct the cost from rent payments. If you do not follow the correct procedure, you could be evicted and you will still be liable for the rent – you will also be responsible for putting right any repairs that are badly carried out.
Ask about a reduction to your rent
You may be able to claim a discount in your rent if the work to your home has been very disruptive. For more information, see the page on disruption and poor work.
Take legal action
It may be possible to take legal action against your landlord. The court may be able to order your landlord to:
- carry out the necessary repair work
- pay you compensation (this could be for the inconvenience and any damage to your personal property or your health that is a direct result of your landlord not carrying out the repairs).
Get legal advice about doing this - use our directory to find a local law centre, or call the Community Legal Advice helpline on 0845 345 4 345 for free initial legal advice.
Is there a risk of eviction?
Although most private landlords will be happy to do repairs, there may be a risk that your landlord will try to evict you instead. However, depending on your tenancy, your landlord cannot evict you immediately. They will still have to give you a period of notice (usually two months for short assured tenants). If you have received an eviction notice or if your landlord is harassing or trying to illegally evict you, get advice – use our directory to find a local advice centre or call our free housing advice helpline.