Doing the repairs if your landlord won't

If your landlord won't do repairs, there's a procedure you must follow if you want to arrange to have the work done and bill your landlord.

Don't withhold rent

You do not have the right to stop paying rent because your landlord won't do repairs.

Your landlord can take steps to evict you if you don't pay the rent.

How to deduct repair costs from rent

It is possible to do repairs without your landlord's agreement and take the cost out of your rent.

You must follow all the steps set out below.  

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

You can use this procedure if you are a:

  • private tenant

  • council tenant (but not if you claim housing benefit)

  • housing association tenant

If you’re a private or housing association tenant and claim housing benefit, or any tenant claiming universal credit housing costs, get advice before using this procedure. You could have your payments suspended until the issue is resolved.

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.

Keep copies of all letters to and from your landlord and accurate records of what you've paid.

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 2 weeks), you'll arrange the work yourself and take the cost of the repairs 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.

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.

3. Get quotes for repair work

Once the time you gave your landlord to start the repairs runs out, get 3 estimates or quotes for the repair work from reliable contractors.

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 2 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.

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.

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.

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.

Still need advice?

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone

Last updated: 30 May 2020

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