What to do if your private landlord won’t do repairs

There are steps you can take if your private landlord won’t deal with repairs or poor conditions in your home.

Make sure your landlord is responsible

Your landlord is usually responsible for repairs in your home. You should report repairs to your landlord as soon as you can.

They must also make sure your home is fit to live in if you sign a new agreement on or after 20 March 2019.

You are responsible for any damage that you cause. This includes damage caused by your family or guests.

You don’t have the right to withhold your rent because your landlord won’t do repairs. Your landlord can take steps to evict you if you do.

Keep records and evidence

Keep records and evidence of the repair problem. This will help if you need to take further action.

This can include:

  • photos of the problem and any damage to your belongings
  • emails, texts and letters to and from your landlord
  • doctor’s notes if your health is affected

Chase up your landlord

Contact your landlord again to make sure they are aware of what the problem is. 

Do this by email or letter so you have a record of it. 

When you write to them:

  • remind them of their responsibility to do repairs
  • suggest dates and times when the repair could be done
  • tell your landlord the level of repair that you would find acceptable

Give your landlord a reasonable deadline to respond to your letter.  Keep chasing up your landlord if they don't respond to your emails or letters.

Be as flexible as you can when they do respond. See if you can negotiate a level of repair you can both agree to.

If you rent from a letting agent you can make a complaint about them if they don’t pass on your repair requests to the landlord.

If you arrange a repair yourself

You are responsible for the standard of work if you choose to do the repair yourself or pay someone to do it.

Your landlord can charge you to put right any damage or further repair issues caused by the work.

There’s no guarantee you will be able to recover the costs of the repair from your landlord.

When you can deduct the costs of repairs from your rent

Ask your landlord if you can do the repairs yourself and deduct the costs from your rent. Get it in writing if they agree.

There is a procedure where you can arrange repairs without your landlord’s agreement and take the cost out of your rent.

You must follow the steps of the procedure exactly and should only use it for minor repairs.

If you do, you can deduct the money from your rent and you will not be considered to be in arrears. 

However this may not stop the landlord giving you a section 21 eviction notice if they are unhappy about the money being taken from the rent.

Contact the council's private renting team

If your landlord refuses to do a repair or won't respond to you, you can report disrepair in your home to your council's private renting team.

Provide any photos or evidence you have when you report the problem to council. The council's environmental health team may arrange an inspection of your home.

Environmental health can order your landlord to carry out repairs or improve conditions.

Ask your local councillor to contact the private renting team on your behalf if you’re having trouble getting the council to do an inspection.

It's up to you whether you tell your landlord that you are planning to report them to the council’s private renting team.

It may encourage them to do the work but it could increase your risk of revenge eviction.

Consider legal action

You can take your landlord to court if they won't deal with repairs in your home. 

You should only consider legal action as a last resort. 

If you do take legal action, the court can order your landlord to:

  • carry out the repair work
  • pay you compensation

Last updated 05 Aug 2019 | © Shelter

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