Call us today on 01253 858231

Housing Disrepair: withholding rent

MJV&Co
by MJV&Co

Withholding Rent

Many of our clients ask us whether they are entitled to withhold rent if heir landlord fails to undertake repairs. Given that compensation is normally calculated as a reduction in rent, this may seem reasonable. However, you should not withhold rent and should continue to pay in full.

Tenancy Agreement

The tenancy agreement requires you to pay the rent on a certain date. If you do not, you risk being evicted. Whether the court would grant an eviction would depend on the amount of arrears. If it is more than 2 months’ or 8 weeks’ rent, the Court has no discretion to refuse the request.

Shelter have produced a useful guide on this type of eviction  https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/eviction/eviction_with_a_section_8_notice

The agreement also requires a landlord to comply with their repairing obligations. It may seem unfair that you need to pay the rent in full. However, compensation in a housing disrepair claim is intended to be compensation for paying more rent than you should have for a property in disrepair.

For more on how compensation is calculated, read our introductory guide https://www.mjvlaw.co.uk/legal-news/housing-disrepair-compensation/

Interest and Costs

If you do not pay your full rent, you will accrue arrears. It may be that your tenancy agreement provides for your landlord being entitled to recover interest on those arrears meaning that you will pay even more rent than you otherwise would.

If your landlord takes legal action against you, they have a right to claim interest. Any Claimant in a County Court claim is. This is provided by Section 69 of the County Courts Act 1984. They are entitled to claim 8% of any monies owed as part of the claim.

If they do issue court proceedings, they are also entitled to recover their costs. If the claim is for less than £10,000 the costs will be limited to small claims costs of no more than £100. However, they are entitled to claim their court fees as well. These will be several hundreds of pounds. The exact amount will depend on the amount involved and whether a hearing is required.

While it is not certain that landlords would take such action, they may. They are entitled to do so and so it is not a risk we advise tenants to take.

Compensation

Even if your landlord does not evict or sue you, you would not receive the full amount of compensation if you were to withhold rent and subsequently settle your housing disrepair claim.

It is established that landlords can deduct the damages from the arrears due.

It is rare for a tenant to be awarded a 100% rent reduction as damages. Our experience suggests that the average is 20-40%. As such, if you withhold your full rent, it is possible that you would not receive any compensation and would remain in arrears after the claim settled. This would mean that the treat of eviction and or being sued would remain until you had paid the arrears.

Claims

If you are a tenant in a housing association or council property and your landlord has not completed repairs you have reported, we may be able to help.

Call us on 01253 858231 or e-mail info@mjvlaw.co.uk