I have a disrepair issue can I withhold rent?   

30 Mar 2020 | William Ford
london house

Withholding rent is not your best course of action.

I see the logic in using the non-payment of rent as leverage against a landlord to do works, when a tenant believes there to be disrepair in the property they are renting. However, generally speaking I would advise against withholding rent. You would be in breach of the tenancy. Also the disrepair may continue. This could also result in your landlord starting Court action against you for rent arrears to evict you. Or the landlord could bring a money claim against you. Also this could be dangerous as the issue complained of may not actually be disrepair. The last thing you want is to further the problems you already have.

  • Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires a landlord to keep in repair the structure of the property and good working order installations for example boilers, toilets and water tanks.
  • The landlord also has s.9A of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 duty. So if the disrepair is hazardous s/he has to take steps to remedy the hazard causing the property to be unfit for human habitation.
  • Under the s.4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972, the landlord also has to ensure that there are no defects which can cause you personal injury or damage your property.
  • Also there are occasions where the tenancy agreement actually gives the landlord an increased repairing obligation. So it is important to check the terms of the tenancy agreement.

Disrepair claims

You should note that a claim for housing disrepair is not always valued at the full amount of rent payable. Disrepair is usually calculated as a percentage reduction in the rent. There is a lot of case law relating to disrepair and it is fundamentally very difficult to assess a value of a claim without having all the facts or evidence. This is why withholding the rent is not your best course of action.

If you do withhold rent, the landlord can bring Court action against you whether it is a claim for possession or a money claim. You could find that any counterclaim for disrepair would not reduce the rent owed to a level that is low enough to prevent an eviction or extinguish the rent arrears. You could find yourself to become homeless and/or with a money judgment when all you wanted is the disrepair to be rectified.

There are practical steps for dealing with disrepair outlined in Adele’s blog What Should I Do If My Property Is In Disrepair?

In addition to these, I would add that you should use government guidelines when it comes to dealing with hazards https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/homes-fitness-for-human-habitation-act-2018/guide-for-tenants-homes-fitness-for-human-habitation-act-2018

If you feel that you have done all you can, seek legal advice.

I deal with repair matters every day, alongside my specialist colleagues at Osbornes Law. Funding of disrepair cases can be arranged through various means including legal aid, private funding and no win no fees.

Share this article


Contact us today

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you

    Related InsightsVIEW ALL

    1. 14.7.2022

      20 Years of Celebrating Legal Aid Lawyers

      This year the litigation team at Osbornes attended the 20th anniversary of the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2022 (“LALY 2022”)...

      Read more
    2. 19.8.2021

      Housing Disrepair Scandal in South London

      Following an investigation by ITV nearly 500 homes in the Eastfields Estate in Mitcham, south London, owned by the housing association...

      Read more
    3. london apartments

      Housing disrepair issues resolved after three years

      Osbornes were instructed on behalf of a disabled tenant who had been decanted from her temporary accommodation for some three...

      Read more
    4. 9.11.2020

      Case Summary: Private Tenant affected by leaks settles...

      Our client had a private sector tenancy for a flat located in a block owned by a local authority. Our...

      Read more
    5. london house

      I have a disrepair issue can I withhold...

      Withholding rent is not your best course of action. I see the logic in using the non-payment of rent as...

      Read more
    6. 21.3.2020

      What should I do if my property is...

      The damage caused by storms Ciara and Dennis has been estimated to cost insurers £360 million.  Even if your property was...

      Read more
    7. 23.5.2019

      Enforcement Proceedings issued against Housing Association

      Osbornes Law have successfully enforced a binding agreement reached with a housing association concerning works to remedy housing disrepair. In...

      Read more
    8. 17.6.2011

      Housing and disrepair in the spotlight

      Recent programs and news features have highlighted more than ever how housing matters are crucially important to many households in...

      Read more