Doing the repairs yourself
- If you cause damage in your home you are responsible for the costs of putting it right
- If you withhold rent there is a risk your landlord might try to evict you
- Your landlord can’t evict you to avoid doing repairs or making the property fit to live in
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 for any costs involved in putting it right. 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?
If you have a private landlord and they are 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 should only use your rent money to pay for the repairs if you follow the correct procedure and understand the risks involved.
Download our disrepair factsheet for further information.
Agreeing with your landlord to do the work 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. If your landlord is responsible for the repairs, ask them 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. Always think carefully before withholding rent.
How easy would it be for the landlord to evict me if I withheld rent?
This depends on the type of renting agreement you have. If you are a standard contract-holder your landlord can’t evict you to avoid carrying out work or repairs, but it might be easier to evict you if you have rent arrears.
If you are an occupier with basic protection or an excluded occupier you can be usually be evicted without your landlord giving a reason and you are not protected from retaliatory eviction. 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.
Whatever type of renting agreement you have, it’s essential to follow the correct procedure (see below).
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.
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 but it is very risky. You must follow the correct procedure (see below) otherwise you risk being evicted for rent arrears.
Be sure to keep copies of all letters and emails, and keep accurate records of what you have paid and when.
1. Write to your landlord letting them know what repairs are needed and allow time for them to be done.
2. Write to your landlord telling them that you will arrange the work yourself unless they are done within a certain time.
3. Get 3 quotes for the repair work from reliable contractors.
4. Send the quotes to your landlord.
5.If your landlord hasn’t responded, arrange for the work to be done by the contractor that gave the cheapest quote.
6. Pay for the work yourself and send a copy of the receipt to your landlord, asking them to refund the money.
7. If your landlord doesn’t pay you, write and confirm that you are going to deduct the money from your future rent.
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.