Doing Repairs Yourself - Tenant Responsibilities

This page explains what you need to do and your responsibilities as a tenant if you have to arrange for repairs to be carried out yourself. This may be because you are responsible for the damage or because your landlord is refusing to do the repairs.

I am responsible for the repairs

If you accidentally or deliberately damage your rented accommodation in any way, you will need to get the damage repaired yourself, or you could lose your deposit when you move out. However, you still need to get your landlord's agreement before carrying out any repair work - they may decide that they'd prefer to get the work done instead.

You need to make sure the repairs are carried out properly. Don't try to do them yourself if you're not sure what you're doing. Calling in a professional joiner, plumber or builder will probably be cheaper in the long run than botching the job yourself. If you arrange repairs yourself and they are not done correctly, your landlord will hold you responsible for any problems that arise as a result of this.

Remember, you should never attempt to carry out electrical or gas repairs yourself - always call in a registered electrician or gas engineer. You can search for an electrician at the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) website or SELECT, Scotland's trade association for the electrical, electronics and communications systems industry, and you can find a gas engineer using the Gas Safe Register website.

My landlord is responsible for the repairs

What can I do if my landlord won't fix things?

If your landlord is refusing to carry out repairs or is being unreasonably slow in getting the work done, you might be able to do the repairs yourself and pay for them out of the rent, provided that:

  • you can afford it

  • you have given your landlord the opportunity to deal with the problem and the repairs have still not been done.

You'll also need to consider:

  • how secure your tenancy is - if you are a common law tenant or a short assured tenant nearing the end of your lease, it may not be worth your while as your landlord can evict you fairly easily

  • why your landlord has not carried out the repairs - if they don't believe the repairs are necessary, they may try to evict you for rent arrears if you get the repairs done yourself and then take the money out of your rent. However, if your landlord has agreed that the repairs need done but is being unreasonably slow in getting round to doing them, they may be glad if you arrange for the work to be done yourself.

What is the correct procedure?

You have to follow a specific procedure if you want to do this. Your landlord can evict you if you take the cost out of your rent without following the correct procedure. The correct procedure is set out here:

  • Write to your landlord explaining that you are going to do the work yourself unless the repairs are done within a reasonable time (such as two weeks). You can use sample letter 1 to help you.

  • Once this time has passed, get three quotes for the work.

  • Send the quotes to your landlord with a letter explaining that you are going to go ahead with the cheapest quote unless your landlord arranges for the repairs to be done within a certain time (such as a further two weeks). Use sample letter 2.

  • Once this time has passed, arrange for the work to be done by the company that gave the cheapest quote.

  • Pay for the work yourself and send a copy of the receipt to your landlord, asking them to refund the money. Sample letter 3 can help you here.

  • if your landlord does not give you back the money, write and explain that you are going to deduct the money from your future rent. Use sample letter 4 to help you.

Remember, if the repairs are not done properly, you will be responsible for any problems this may cause, so make sure the job is done well.

If your landlord threatens you with eviction due to rent arrears, talk to an adviser at a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice.

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help. Get Help

Last updated: 3 July 2018

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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