If your landlord won't do repairs, there's a procedure you must follow for having the work done yourself and billing your landlord.
Eviction for withholding rent
You do not have the right to just stop paying rent if your landlord won't do repairs. Your landlord can take steps to evict you for rent arrears if you don't pay the rent.
In most cases a landlord has to go to court to get an order to evict you. The court could decide you should be evicted if you have rent arrears.
If your landlord agrees you can arrange repair work
Your landlord will usually arrange for repairs to be done and pay the bill. Your landlord may be happy for you to arrange for work to be carried out instead. You should only consider this for minor repairs.
Before you arrange any repairs, ask your landlord to confirm in writing that they'll pay the full cost. You may have to get estimates from more than one contractor and get your landlord's agreement about who to use.
You probably have to pay for repairs yourself if you caused damage to your rented home.
How to do repairs and deduct money from rent
It is possible to do repairs without your landlord's agreement and take the cost out of your rent, but you must follow the steps set out below.
Using this procedure is only advisable for minor repairs. You're responsible for the quality of the work that's carried out and will have to pay to put things right if it's done badly.
It's important to keep copies of all correspondence to and from your landlord and accurate records of what you've paid.
Tenants who can use this procedure
You can use this procedure if you are a:
- private tenant
- council tenant (but not if you claim housing benefit)
- housing association tenant
Step 1: write to inform your landlord about repairs
You must let your landlord know that repairs are needed.
If you haven't already told your landlord about repairs, you can use Shelter's template letter to write to your landlord to ask for repairs.
Step 2: write saying you plan to arrange repairs
Write to your landlord again if you don't get a reply or if the work doesn't start.
Explain that unless the repairs are done within a certain time (for example two weeks), you'll arrange the work yourself and take the costs out of your rent.
Use Shelter's template letter to write to your landlord to tell them you'll carry out repairs yourself if they don't.
This is the first of four letters you must write.
You can't deduct any other costs from your rent money. You can ask your landlord for compensation to cover extra costs caused by the repair problem. For example, if you had to replace damaged belongings.
Step 3: get quotes for repair work
After the time you gave the landlord to the repairs runs out, get three estimates or quotes for the repair work from reliable contractors
Step 4: send quotes to your landlord
Send the quotes to your landlord with a letter explaining that unless they get the repairs done within a certain time (for example two weeks), you'll go ahead with the cheapest quote.
Use Shelter's template letter to write to tell your landlord you'll use the cheapest quote if they don't do repairs.
This is the second of four letters you must write.
Step 5: arrange for repair work to be done
Once the time you gave your landlord has passed, if your landlord hasn't responded, arrange for the work to be done by the contractor that gave the cheapest quote.
Don't proceed if you have doubts about the contractor. You'll have to put things right if the work is done badly.
Step 6: send receipts to your landlord
Pay for the work yourself and send a copy of the receipt to your landlord with a letter asking them to refund the money.
Use Shelter's template letter to write to your landlord to tell them you've done the repairs and to ask for a refund.
This is the third of four letters you must write.
Step 7: write to confirm rent deductions
If your landlord doesn't pay you, write and confirm that you're going to deduct the money from your future rent.
Explain exactly when the deductions will start and how long they'll last.
Use Shelter's template letter to write to tell your landlord about the deductions you'll make from your rent.
This is the fourth and final letter you must write.