Around 250,000 private tenants every year in the UK withhold rent money from their landlords because of delays in repairs needed. This can be for a range of reasons from boiler faults to plumbing failures. It’s a difficult situation for both parties, but what’s the legal side to it?

What needs to be repaired by the landlord?

The law says that for a landlord, repair involves the structure and exterior of a property. This would include a leaking roof, damp, rotten woodwork, external pipes etc. A landlord must also ensure that installations such as gas, electricity, heating, water are working.

The tenancy agreement will disclose further areas that the landlord is responsible for within the property, but all tenancy agreements are different so it can vary.

There is little advice for landlords as to a reasonable time for repairs to be completed. To avoid frustrating tenants and potentially creating legal problems, landlords should keep their tenants in the loop from start to finish.

Withholding rent for repairs

There’s no denying that there are certain problems that need resolving faster than others, leaks, water and heating failures are examples of some problems that need urgent repair. Despite this, no tenant has the right to stop paying rent until repairs have been carried out.

However, if after notifying the landlord of the fault and there’s no sign of repairs, the tenant can carry out the repairs and deduct the cost from any future rent payments. It is advised for tenants to tell the landlord about their intention and to send them three quotes for the work and choose the cheapest.

Knowing what was broken and in need of repair before a tenant moved into a property can be instrumental in evidence should a tenant dispute arise.

Skribes are Birmingham’s leading independent inventory and property services specialists, providing landlords with inventory reports, check-in reports, interim reports, check-out reports and legionella reports.

To find out how we can help make it easier to manage your property, call us today on 07891 551 905 or email