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Withholding rent

Withholding rent means that you stop paying your rent because of problems in your home.

It's risky to do this because your landlord could try to evict you for rent arrears. Try to solve problems with your landlord before you consider withholding rent.

If you decide to withhold rent, you must keep the money in a separate bank account and not use it for other things. You'll usually have to pay the money back when the problem is fixed.

Steps to take before withholding rent

Withholding rent should never be your first step. Follow these steps first to reduce the risk of eviction.

Step 1: talk to your landlord

Report the problem to your landlord in writing, and give them a chance to fix it.

If your home has repair problems, check our advice on:

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.

Use our letter template to ask for a rent reduction for repairs

Step 2: make a complaint

If your landlord refuses to fix the problem, follow their official complaints process.

You can start legal action if you're unhappy with their response to your complaint.

Check our advice on:

Step 3: warn your landlord

Never withhold rent without warning your landlord first.

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.

If you want to do repairs yourself and withhold rent to pay for them, check our advice on doing repairs yourself.

Step 4: keep the rent money in a separate bank account

If you decide to withhold rent, it's important to keep track of how much you've withheld and put it aside.

You'll usually need to pay the money back later when the problem is fixed.

If your landlord tries to evict you for rent arrears, you'll need to show that you were deliberately withholding rent and that you have the money to pay back the arrears.

Getting compensation from your landlord

You could get compensation if your landlord broke the law or if they owe you money.

The amount you can claim depends on how the problem affected you or how much it cost you.

You'll need to apply to a court or tribunal to claim compensation. Check our advice on getting:

If your landlord tries to evict you

Your landlord could start eviction action for rent arrears if you withhold rent. They must follow a strict legal process.

You do not have to move out if you get an eviction notice. Your landlord must apply to a court or tribunal for an eviction order. The court or tribunal will decide if it’s reasonable to evict you.

You can challenge the eviction by explaining why you withheld rent, and showing proof that your landlord refused to fix the problem.

If you're threatened with eviction, check our advice on:

Last updated: 16 February 2024

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England