Withholding rent

Try to resolve any issues with your landlord before you consider withholding rent. If you decide to withhold rent, your landlord could try to evict you for rent arrears. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of being evicted.

Before you withhold rent

Withholding rent should never be your first step. First, report the problem to your landlord and give them a chance to fix it.

If your landlord is taking steps to fix the problem, but it’s taking a long time, you can try to negotiate a rent reduction while you wait.

If your landlord refuses to fix the problem, you can let them know you’re going to withhold rent. Never withhold rent without telling your landlord first.

If you get benefits and want to withhold rent, get advice from a Shelter Scotland adviser.

Before withholding rent for repairs

Follow our guidance on:

If you decide to get repairs done and withhold rent to pay for them, follow our guidance on doing repairs yourself.

If you want to claim compensation from your landlord

Follow our guidance on:

Write to your landlord

Tell your landlord:

  • what the problem is (for example, repairs not being done)

  • what you want them to do and by what date

  • when you will start withholding rent

  • how long you will withhold rent for

Keep copies of all letters or emails. If your landlord tries to evict you, you might need to tell a court or tribunal why you were withholding rent and prove that your landlord knew about it.

Keep the rent money in a separate bank account

Do not just stop paying rent. Keep track of how much you have withheld and put it aside. You might need to pay the money back later.

If your landlord tries to evict you for rent arrears, you should be able to show that you were deliberately withholding rent and that you have the funds to pay off the arrears.

If the problem is resolved

You’ll usually have to pay back any withheld rent when your landlord fixes the problem.

If you have paid for repairs yourself, you should be able to keep money to cover the costs. Make sure you keep proof of any work done and receipts for how much it cost.

If your landlord tries to evict you

Your landlord may try to evict you for rent arrears. The eviction process they must follow depends on your tenancy type.

If your case goes to court or tribunal, they will have to decide if it’s reasonable to evict you or not.

If you can give evidence that your landlord was not fulfilling their responsibilities, and that they were aware of the issue, the court or tribunal should take that into account.

If you’re threatened with eviction, get advice from a Shelter Scotland adviser.

Last updated: 14 June 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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