Damage to your rented home

If you accidentally damage something in your rented home, you probably have to pay for repairs.

Wear and tear

Your landlord should not charge you or deduct money from your tenancy deposit because of normal wear and tear.

Wear and tear is caused by day-to-day living. For example:

  • a brand new carpet would show signs of use
  • a threadbare carpet at the start of your tenancy might now have worn through
  • window frames might have peeling paint due to wind and rain

There could also be cracks in plaster or faded wallpaper or paint.

You must look after your home, but your landlord can't expect it to be returned in exactly the same state as it was when you moved in.

Tenant's responsibility for accidental damage

Tell your landlord if you accidentally damage any of the furniture or fittings in your rented home.

If your landlord agrees that you can make or arrange the repair or replacement, get receipts for any work done and any items you buy.

Use your inventory to record details of any damage you repair with the landlord's agreement.

If you leave your tenancy without fixing damage, your landlord could deduct money from your deposit or take legal action against you to cover the cost.

Your landlord can take action to evict you if you or anyone else in your household deliberately damages your home.

Accidental damage caused by neighbours

It's usually your landlord's responsibility to repair damage caused by an accident that wasn't your fault.

This could include:

  • leaks from a neighbouring flat
  • damage to the roof or windows caused by a neighbour's building works

Your landlord may have insurance cover that includes accidental damage to the building. If they don't, your landlord can take action to recover the cost of any work from the neighbour. 

It is not your landlord's responsibility to replace any of your belongings that are damaged for this reason.

You can ask your neighbour for compensation. If they won’t pay, you can take court action against them.

Damage due to crime

It's usually the landlord's responsibility to repair damage caused by a crime.

Examples include:

  • windows broken by a burglar
  • vandalism in a shared area such as a garden or hallway

If your home has been damaged by crime, contact the police and ask for a crime report number.

Tell your landlord if there has been any criminal damage to your home. Report any repairs you need and give your landlord a reasonable time to fix the problem.

It is not your landlord's responsibility to replace any of your belongings that are stolen or damaged through crime. 

Damage due to repair problems

Your landlord is responsible for fixing the problem if your home is damaged by a repair problem or works arranged by your landlord.

You can take your landlord to court for compensation if repair problems have damaged any of your personal belongings.

Insurance for tenants

As a tenant, you can insure yourself and your belongings against accidental or criminal damage in the home.

See the Go Compare Guide to Tenants' Insurance for further information.

Still need advice?

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


Last updated 31 May 2018 | © Shelter

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