What to do if your landlord won’t do repairs

Options to consider and steps to take to get repairs done if your private landlord won't do repairs.

Make sure you report repairs

Before you decide what steps to take, make sure you report repair problems to your landlord or letting agent and give them a reasonable time to do the work.

You can tell them about the repair problem in person, by phone or text. You should also email or write to them to confirm the details too. 

Find out how to find your landlord if you don’t have their contact details.

Responsibility for repairs

Your landlord is usually responsible for most repairs in your home. You could be responsible for repairs if you damaged your home, even if it was accidental.

Don’t withhold rent

You don't have the right to stop paying your rent if your landlord refuses to do repairs.

If you do, your landlord could take steps to evict you.

Keep records

Keep a record of the repairs needed. Records can help if you need to make a complaint.

This can include:

  • copies of letters and emails you send and receive from your landlord about repairs
  • photographs of what needs repairing
  • 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

Negotiate with your landlord or letting agent

When your home needs repairs, it’s often easier to get them done by negotiating with your landlord or letting agent.

You could contact them and:

  • check if they received your original repair request
  • suggest times and dates to do the work
  • remind them of their responsibility to do repairs

If your letting agent isn't dealing with the repairs, you can use their complaints procedure. This may prompt them to arrange the repairs.

You can complain to their letting agent redress scheme if you don't get a satisfactory response or they don't reply.

Complain to environmental health

If your landlord won't do repairs that affect your health and safety, you can ask your local council’s environmental health department to inspect your home.

The council can offer help and advice and may tell your landlord to do repairs.

You can tell your landlord you're going to ask the council to inspect your home. It may encourage your landlord to do the work.

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

Rent reduction to cover repair costs

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

You must follow the correct legal procedure. If you don’t you could be evicted and have to repay all the rent owed.

You should only use this procedure for minor repairs. You're responsible for the work that's carried out. If repairs are done badly you'll have to pay to put things right.

Get advice before you decide to do this. 

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person.

Consider legal action

You can take legal action if your landlord won’t do repairs.

A court can order your landlord to:

  • carry out the repair work
  • pay you compensation for inconvenience or damage to your belongings and health

Find out more about getting free legal advice and representation.

Eviction after asking for repairs

Some landlords may take steps to evict tenants who complain about repairs or poor conditions. This is known as 'a revenge eviction'.

You may have some protection against revenge eviction if you have an assured shorthold tenancy.

Get advice if you reported repairs and are worried about the threat of eviction.

Still need advice?

Contact a Shelter adviser online, by phone or in person.

Last updated 16 Mar 2018 | © Shelter

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