If there is urgent repair work which needs doing in your property and your landlord is refusing to do anything about it, there is one alternative.
You could do it yourself, and deduct the money from your rent under the tenants ‘right of set off’.
As you would expect, you need to be very careful about this and follow the proper procedure. Which is basically as follows:
1. Check the the repair work is work your landlord is legally obliged to do.
This will mostly be work he is obliged to do under his statutory repairing obligations under s11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
2. Tell the landlord about the need for repair
This is essential. You have to give him an opportunity to get the work done. The landlord should be notified in writing, if only so you can prove that he has been told about it.
3. Get at least three estimates
If the work has not been done after your original letter, and a couple of reminders, arrange to get at least three estimates from reputable workmen for the work required.
Then send these off (copies, don’t send the originals) saying that if he does not get the work done, you will get it done yourself using the cheapest of the three quotations.
4. Get the work done
If the work has STILL not been done, you can arrange to do it, using the cheapest estimate. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to do this though, you need to give your landlord sufficient time before you do anything yourself. How long this is will depend on the nature of the repair work concerned.
5. Deduct the cost from your rent.
Of course this whole process depends on you being able to pay the workmen. My view is that if you genuinely cannot afford this, you are justified in withholding part of the rent in advance to enable you to make the payment provided you keep it in a separate bank account and do not do anything else with it.
The text books are all very cautious here, but if you genuinely do not have the money, how else can you get the work done?
There are a few points you need to bear in mind before you do this:
- If you have an AST and your landlord does not like what you have done, he can serve a section 21 notice on you and end your tenancy
- If there is anything wrong with the quality of the work done, you will be responsible for the cost of putting it right
- If you have a criminal landlord he may take dramatic measures to show his displeasure
This procedure is not suitable for all situations, but sometimes, rather than bring a court claim (which can take ages and is difficult to do without legal help) it will be much quicker just to do it and deduct the cost from rent.