Disruption and poor work when renting from a private landlord
- Your landlord should fix any damage caused by contractors they have arranged
- If you can’t use your whole home, your landlord should refund you some of the rent
Disruption during repairs and poor work
If your landlord arranges repairs, they are responsible for the builders’ work. This page explains what you can do if the work isn’t done properly, or if it causes major disruption.
As with all repairs, if you are an occupier with basic protection or an excluded occupier think carefully about how you raise the issue with your landlord because you can be evicted easily. Standard contract-holders should also give consideration to this, although they have more protection against retaliatory eviction.
If the repairs are done badly there may be something that you can do about it, depending on how the repairs were arranged.
If the environmental health department or the court ordered your landlord to do the work and it is not up to standard, you can go back to the council or the court and ask them to force your landlord to do the work properly.
If your landlord has done the work voluntarily, it may be more difficult to get the work done to the standard you want. The landlord is usually only responsible for carrying out the repair, not for improving the property. Report the problems to your landlord again, then give them time to put things right before going on to take further action.
If the repairs have damaged any of your personal belongings or made the accommodation dangerous, you may be able to take your landlord to court for compensation or to get an order that s/he carries out the work. You will probably need help from an adviser, as the process is complicated. If the accommodation is dangerous, contact your local council’s environmental health department immediately.
Does the landlord have to redecorate?
When repair work is carried out, any damage to internal decorations should be ‘made good’. This could include:
- repairing damaged plaster or wall coverings
- repainting if necessary
- replacing damaged items such as carpets.
If the work is an improvement, your landlord doesn’t have to ‘make good’ afterwards. But they need to get your permission before they can carry out any improvement work, so you might want to insist on this before you agree to it.
What if repairs are really disruptive?
If repairs to your home are very disruptive (eg if some rooms are unusable) you may be entitled to claim a reduction on your rent. This is called a rent abatement. You can claim retrospectively, after the work has been done.
The amount you get will depend on how much of the property you can use. For example, if you can only use half the property while the repairs are being carried out, you should get a 50% reduction of your rent.
If your landlord refuses to reduce your rent, contact a local advice centre. Don’t just stop paying your rent or you could lose your home. It may be necessary to take your landlord to court to claim compensation.
Can workmen use my electricity and gas?
The landlord’s workers will probably have to use your supply of electricity, gas and other services while they are doing the work. If you think the usage is excessive, or if it continues for a long time, speak to your landlord and see if you can arrange for them to make a contribution towards your utility bills.
Can I be forced to move out?
If your landlord needs to carry out major repair work to the property, you may need to move out. In virtually all cases, you do not have to leave unless your landlord is able to evict you using the correct procedure.
If you are happy to move out but want to move back in again once the work is completed, make sure you get this agreement in writing before you agree to go.
Contact a local advice centre if you’ve been asked to move out and don’t want to go. An adviser can make sure that your landlord follows the correct legal procedures, and that any rights you have are protected.
What if I need help dealing with the landlord?
If a landlord threatens you they may be guilty of harassment, which is a serious offence. Other examples of harassment could include:
- sending builders round without notice
- removing or restricting access to services such as gas, electricity or water
- visiting your home regularly without warning, especially late at night
- entering your home without your permission
- beginning disruptive repair works and not finishing them
- stopping you from going into parts of your home (eg. the kitchen or bathroom).
If something like this is happening, your local council may be able to help you.
If your landlord starts action to evict you, get help.