What to do if a private landlord refuses to do repairs

There are steps you can take to get repairs done to your home if your landlord ignores your requests or takes too long to complete the work.

1. Tell your landlord repairs are needed

Landlords are usually only responsible for repairs they've been told about. Report repairs and give them a reasonable time to start doing the repairs.

Use Shelter's template letter to write to your landlord to ask for repairs.

2. Contact your landlord again

If your landlord doesn't reply to your first request for repairs, contact them again.

Use Shelter's template letter to write again to ask your landlord for repairs.

3. Gather information about repairs

Keep a record of the repairs and your efforts to get the landlord to fix them. 

This could include:

  • photographs of what needs repairing
  • copies of letters or emails you've sent to your landlord
  • receipts for any items you've had to buy to replace damaged items, for example furniture or curtains
  • doctors' notes, if the disrepair is bad for your health or the health of someone else in your household
  • other professional reports or bills if you have them, for example if you've had to pay for pest control or get a surveyor to check for damp

Keeping records helps if you need to make a complaint.

4. Tell your landlord you're contacting the council

Wait a reasonable amount of time for repair work to start. If it doesn't, contact your landlord again. Tell them you're going to ask the council to check if your home is safe to live in.

Use Shelter's template letter to write to your landlord to say you'll contact the council if they don't do repairs.

5. Ask the council for help to get repairs done

Contact your local council to request an environmental health inspection if your landlord ignores or refuses your request for necessary repairs. 

The council should be able to offer help and advice and may tell the landlord to do repairs.

Use Shelter's template letter to write to ask the council to inspect your home.

Find out more about how environmental health can help with repairs.

Get advice if the council tells you it can't help you. Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.

6. Do repairs yourself and deduct the cost from your rent

You do not have the right to withhold your rent if your landlord refuses to do repairs. If you don't pay rent, the landlord could take steps to evict you.

If the landlord has failed to do repairs, you can arrange for the repairs to be done and then deduct the cost from your rent.

You must follow the correct procedure to do this. If you don't you could be evicted and still owe all the rent.

Get advice about arranging your own repairs, especially if you are an assured shorthold tenant as it is easy for your landlord to evict you even if you do follow the correct procedure.

Read more about doing the repairs if your landlord won't.

7. Get advice about eviction

Get advice if you're worried about being evicted if you ask for repairs.

Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.

8. 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.

Find out more about what to expect during repair work.

9. Take legal action

Get advice about taking legal action against your landlord. The court might be able to order your landlord to:

Use Shelter's directory to find a local law centre or call our free helpline on 0808 800 4444 for advice.

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