Can i withhold the rent and arrange the repairs myself?
If you are a council or housing association tenant and your landlord is refusing to do repairs which are their responsibility, then you might decide to use your rent money to do the repairs yourself.
You do not have a right to withhold your rent and so you should only use your rent money to pay for the repairs if you follow the correct procedure and understand the risks involved.
You don’t have the right to withhold your rent. If you do, your landlord might take action to evict you. It is not recommended. If you do decide to stop paying your rent, keep the money in a separate bank account so you can pay off the arrears immediately if you have to.
If you are a council tenant and claiming housing benefit you cannot withhold rent over repairs.
If you are a housing association tenant, tell the housing benefit department what you are doing, and ask them not to make payments directly to your landlord. Your payments might be suspended temporarily until the issue is resolved. You may want to talk to an adviser about your situation before doing this.
How easy would it be for the landlord to evict me?
This depends on the type of tenancy you have. If you have limited rights and the repairs are not essential, it may be better to live with things as they are. It is usually better to get the repairs done in another way.
If you have an introductory tenancy or a demoted tenancy, you can be evicted much more easily than secure tenants. Similarly, if you rent from a housing association, you can be evicted much more easily if you have an assured shorthold tenancy as opposed to an assured or secure tenancy. Do not start withholding rent until you have spoken to an adviser about your situation.
Whatever type of tenancy you have, it’s essential to follow the correct procedure (see below).
What is the procedure?
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. If you carry out or arrange repairs that are done badly, you’ll be legally responsible.