If your repairs aren't being seen to in a timely manner, can you do them yourself and deduct the costs from your rent?
It’s not only landlords that contact us with tenancy issues, we also hear from a number of tenants. One issue that’s come up a few times recently is the timeliness of repairs and whether or not the tenant can carry out the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from the rent.
Last week a lady renting a flat in Bush Hill Park came into the office wanting to know whether she could buy a new dish washer and deduct it from the rent as her landlord was dragging his feet. I can understand her frustration as I hate washing up, but even without checking her tenancy agreement I had to advise against this course of action!
Now a dishwasher may seem a little trivial but whether its a dishwasher, painting, carpets or something else, withholding rent is seldom a good idea. There are in fact only specific circumstances listed in Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act where it is actually legal and these circumstances relate to the landlords statutory obligations to repair anything related to:
- Heating and hot water
- The structure of the property (e.g. guttering and drains)
- Gas, water and electric supplies
However, even in these situations you need to be careful and I’d always recommend getting legal advice because there are set procedures that HAVE to be followed including written communication, gathering quotes, working out what is a ‘reasonable’ time for response, and keeping a diary.
A reasonable amount of time to wait for a repair will vary, for example if it’s the middle of summer and your heating breaks down then reasonable will be longer than if it’s snowing outside. Similarly if you have just one toilet and it is blocked, you can reasonably expect it to be repaired much quicker than if you have a second toilet available.
However, while you may legally be able to withhold rent (and may win in court if the deduction is disputed by your landlord), it’s always worth looking at the bigger picture.
If your landlord is slow to carry out repairs and/ or doesn't replace items when they break, then do you really want to carry on living in their property? And is this landlord likely to extend your tenancy anyway?
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