Doing the repairs yourself
If you have caused damage to the property, or if your landlord is refusing to do repairs which are their responsibility, then you might need to do the repairs yourself.
In both situations you must follow the correct procedure and understand the risks involved.
Responsibility for damage
If you accidentally or deliberately damage your home in any way, you will be responsible.
It may be better to get the damage repaired yourself – otherwise you could lose your deposit when you leave. Get the landlord’s agreement before any work is started and always get receipts for any work you have done, and for any parts or materials you buy.
What if my landlord is refusing or delaying carrying out repairs?
Agreeing with your landlord for work to be done yourself
If your landlord has agreed that the repairs need doing but hasn’t done them yet, they may be happy for you to arrange for the work to be done. Ask your landlord to confirm in writing that they will pay for everything before the work is started. They may want you to get estimates from more than one contractor before they will agree to this.
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, even if you have a good reason why you are not paying.
If you do decide to stop paying rent, you should keep the rent money aside in a separate bank account. This will ensure that you can pay off the rent arrears immediately if you have to.
Doing the work yourself and deducting the cost from the rent
It is possible to do repairs without your landlord’s agreement and take the cost out of your rent but it is very risky. You must follow the correct procedure (see below) otherwise you risk being evicted for rent arrears.
How to deduct repair costs from rent
You must follow all the steps below if you want to pay for repairs and take the cost out of your rent. Otherwise, your landlord could evict you.
Be sure to keep copies of all letters and emails, and keep accurate records of what you have paid and when.
Step 1 :
Report the repairs to the landlord in writing and allow time for them to be done.
Step 2 :
Write to your landlord again, explaining that you intend do the work yourself and take the costs out of your rent unless the repairs are done within a certain time (eg. two weeks).
Use our sample letter : Repairs 3 – 1st letter before doing repairs yourself
Step 3 :
Once this time has passed, get three quotes/estimates for the work from reliable contractors.
Step 4 :
Send the quotes to your landlord with a letter explaining that you are going to go ahead with the cheapest quote unless your landlord arranges for the repairs to be done within a certain time (eg. a further two weeks).
Use our sample letter : Repairs 4 – 2nd letter before doing repairs yourself
Once this time has passed, if your landlord hasn’t responded, arrange for the work to be done by the contractor that gave the cheapest quote.
Step 6 :
Pay for the work yourself and send a copy of the receipt to your landlord, asking them to refund the money.
Use our sample letter : Repairs 5 – 3rd letter before doing repairs yourself
Step 7 :
If your landlord does not give you back the money, write and confirm that you are going to deduct the money from your future rent. Explain exactly when the deductions will start and how long you will withhold rent for.
Use our sample letter : Repairs 6 – 4th letter before doing repairs yourself
If you are claiming housing benefit, tell the housing benefit department what you are doing, and ask them not to make payments directly to your landlord. Your housing benefit payments might be suspended temporarily until the issue is resolved.
Will I be responsible for the quality of the work?
Yes. Make sure the repairs are carried out properly – whether you do them yourself or get a professional in to do them. Never try to do them yourself if you’re not sure what you’re doing, or if gas or electricity is involved. If you carry out or arrange repairs that are done badly, you’ll be legally responsible for the consequences.