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Withholding rent for repairs

You should not stop paying your rent if your landlord does not do repairs. 

It's unfair but your landlord could take steps to evict you even if:

  • important things like a boiler or toilet are broken

  • repairs are taking too long or causing disruption

  • you cannot live in your home or use all your rooms

  • your health is at risk because of conditions in your home

All tenants are at risk of eviction for rent arrears. Private tenants are often evicted without a reason.

If you decide to withhold rent anyway, set the money aside and do not spend it. Pay the rent as soon as the problem is fixed.

You could still be evicted even if you pay the rent after the repairs are completed.

Video: Should you withhold rent for repairs?

Video transcript

It's unfair when things in your home are broken and you still have to pay rent.

But you should not withhold rent if your landlord will not make repairs.

Your landlord can evict you if you do not pay even if the conditions in your home are making your life difficult.

So what can you do instead?

You could ask your landlord to reduce your rent until things in your home are put right.

Your landlord does not have to agree to a rent reduction but it could be worth trying to negotiate.

This could be reasonable if you've experienced a lot of disruption.

For example:

  • if you've had to take lots of time off work

  • you cannot use parts of your home

  • your belongings have been damaged or your health is being affected

You can use our letter template for help with what to say.

Our adviser explains why you should not withhold rent and what to do if repairs are not done.

Ask for a rent reduction

You could negotiate a rent reduction if delays or repair work are disrupting your life.

Most repair work involves some disruption. But it could be reasonable to ask to pay less rent if, for example:

  • there has been a lot of noise

  • you've had to take lots of time off work

  • you're unable to use part of your home

  • your health is being affected by dust and chemicals

  • workers in your home have used lots of gas or electricity

Asking for a rent reduction is risky for many private tenants.

You could face revenge eviction. Some landlords evict private tenants who complain about bad housing conditions.

But it could work if you have a reasonable relationship with your landlord or agent.

Use our template

Email or write to your landlord. Tell them:

  • why you think the rent should be reduced

  • what sort of reduction is reasonable

Copy our sample text into an email:

[Use the subject: Rent reduction request due to repairs]

I’m writing to ask for a temporary rent reduction at [your address] due to the conditions in the property. [Describe the problems you're having with repairs.]

I first told you about these problems on [date].

My life has been affected by the repair problems. [Give details. For example, if you cannot use a room in your home or your health is affected.] 

I would like to pay £xxx until these problems are fixed. I think this is reasonable.

I would be happy to go back to paying the full rent when the repairs are done.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

You can also send the letter as an email attachment or through the post:

Keep any emails or messages. Get any agreement in writing.

Records can help if you decide to make a complaint or claim compensation at a later date. 

Ask for compensation

You could ask for compensation even if your landlord does not agree to a rent reduction.

You could get compensation through:

  • negotiating

  • legal action in court

  • a complaint to an ombudsman or redress scheme

You have 6 years from when your landlord should have started the work to take court action.

You can do this after your tenancy ends as long as you reported the issues to your landlord at the time. It may be better to wait until after you've moved out to take court action.

Find out more about compensation for repairs and poor conditions.

Council tenants could also use the right to repair scheme.

Asking for compensation is risky for many private tenants.

Your landlord could give you a section 21 notice.

But reasonable landlords should consider your request.

Paying for repairs yourself

Council or housing association tenants can:

  • pay for repairs if they are not done in a reasonable time

  • take the cost out of rent payments

Check your landlord's policy to see what they say about timescales for repairs.

This advice is for council and housing association tenants.

Paying for repairs and taking the cost out of your rent is very risky if you're a private tenant. Your landlord could take steps to evict you if you make repairs without their permission.

Before you decide to take these steps

Make sure you understand the step by step process.

Check the repairs are your landlord's responsibility.

You are responsible for the repairs. You will need to put things right if the repairs are done badly.

Council tenants who get full housing benefit cannot use this process.

Anyone who gets universal credit or housing benefit might have payments suspended.

Steps you must follow

You must take all these steps.

You need to send letters 1 to 5 in order.

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

Paying for repairs and taking the money from your rent

Last updated: 18 April 2024

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