Disruption and moving out because of repairs if you rent privately

Find out what to do if repair work is very disruptive, or if you have to move out while repairs are being carried out. Both council and private housing need to meet a basic level of repair called the Tolerable Standard, and private rented accommodation must also meet the Repairing Standard.

Getting a rent reduction for disruptive repairs

If the repair work is very disruptive (for example, if you can't use all the rooms in the home) you may be entitled to claim a reduction on your rent, called a rent abatement. The reduction depends on how much of the property you can use. For example, if you can only use half the property, your rent should be reduced by half. It's best to claim an abatement before or during the work, but you can also claim once it has finished.

If your landlord refuses to give you a rent abatement speak to an adviser.

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They will be able to tell you whether you're entitled to an abatement, and whether you would be justified in withholding rent.

You may also be able to pursue your claim in court. And if the repairs seriously affect your quality of life, you may be able to claim compensation.

What if the workmen are using my electricity and gas?

Inevitably, the landlord's workers will have to use your supply of electricity, gas and other services during repair works. If you think the usage is excessive, or if it continues for a long time, speak to your landlord and see if you can arrange for them to make a contribution towards your utility bills.

What if I have to move out?

If your landlord needs to carry out major repair work to the property, you may be asked to move out. In this case, your landlord will have to refund you the cost of any alternative accommodation. They may sort out this accommodation for you, or you may have to make your own arrangements.

You may agree with your landlord that you'll move out temporarily, on the condition that you can move back in again once the work is completed. Make sure you get an agreement in writing to protect your rights.

What if I don't want to move out?

If you won't move out voluntarily, your landlord may try to evict you.

Common law tenants

If you are a  common law tenant (for example, if you live with your landlord), your landlord can evict you fairly easily at the end of your lease, or at any time if a clause in your tenancy agreement says this is possible. They should give you four weeks' notice. Check the eviction procedures for common law tenants that landlords must follow.

Short assured tenants

If you are a short assured tenant, your landlord will be able to evict you at the end of your lease, provided they follow the correct procedure. Speak to an adviser if you're in this situation. They may be able to help you delay or prevent the eviction if your landlord is not following the correct legal procedures.

Assured tenants

If you are an assured tenant, your landlord needs a special reason or 'ground' to evict you.

If your landlord wants to do major repair work which can't be done while you're living there, or you don't want to live there while the work is being done, you can be asked to leave.

You can also be asked to leave if your landlord has found you somewhere else to live, either during the repairs or permanently. This must be suitable for you and your family, and you must have the same or similar rights that you have in your current home. The sheriff must be convinced that it's reasonable for you to be evicted.

In both cases you must be given at least two months' notice before you have to leave. You should also be entitled to reasonable moving expenses. If you can't agree on the expenses, you can ask the sheriff court to decide this for you.

Repair notices from the council

If the property you rent is below standard or in need of repair, the council can send your landlord a work notice or a defective or dangerous building notice. This orders them to carry out repair work to bring the property up to scratch. The council will send you a copy of the notice, so you'll know what's involved.

It's up to the owner to arrange the repairs. You'll have to allow your landlord and any contractors access to the property so they can carry out the work. Your landlord is required to give you 24 hours' notice whenever they, or anyone else, needs to get into your home.

If you're not happy about the notice, you can appeal to the sheriff court. Find out more about work notices and defective and dangerous building notices.

Moving out while the council carries out work

If the council is doing the work, your rights depend on the kind of notice issued.

Work notices and repairing standard enforcement orders

If the repairs relate to a work notice or a repairing standard enforcement order, the council may ask you to move out if the work is likely to endanger you. You must be given at least 14 days' notice before you need to leave.

If you refuse to leave, the council can apply to the sheriff court to have you ejected. If the sheriff thinks you'll be put in danger by the work, they can make you move out until it's completed. You won't be made to leave unless you have somewhere else to go.

If you have to move out while work is being done, this won't end your tenancy. You'll be able to move back in and the terms of your tenancy won't change.

Defective or dangerous building notice

If the council thinks a building is dangerous to the general public, it can evacuate it immediately using a defective and dangerous building notice. These are used in emergencies, and you don't need to be given any notice.

If the council needs to carry out work on a dangerous building that makes it unsafe for you to live in your home, they can give you a written notice asking you to move out. When it's safe for you to move back in they'll send you another notice. If you don't leave, the council can apply to the sheriff court to force you to move out.

Your tenancy rights won't be affected and you shouldn't be charged rent while you're away from your home.

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Last updated: 26 January 2017

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