UK Property Law
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You can withhold rent only provided you follow a very specific procedure and usually I would advise this as a last resort given that if you do not follow the procedure you can potentially grant you landlord the right to terminate your tenancy for non-payment of rent. This website provides information about the procedure with standard letters:-
You should formally write to the the landlord specifying the disrepair, making a list of the reasonable repair required and ask that he make those repairs within a reasonable time (eg. 14 days). State that if the landlord does not make the repair within that time you will pay to have the repairs made and will seek to claim the expense from him and are prepared to make an application to court if necessary.If the landlord does not make the repair you can pay to have it done and then write formally to him requesting the payment of the cost, again within a reasonable time). If he does not pay you can issue a claim for the money yourself through Her Majesty Courts Service's online service: http://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/
Its pretty cheap and straightforward to use. I always advise this way forward rather than withholding rent because of the reason outlined above (putting your continuing occupation in jeopardy).If the state of repair (particularly damp) is very bad then you should contact the local authority environmental health department and ask them to send an officer round. If the state of the property is bad he will issue an enforcement notice against the Landlord to carry out works and this may prompt him in to making the repair. If he finds it unfit for human habitation then he will declare it as such and you will be able to terminate your agreement with the landlord on the basis of this breach. If the term of our tenancy agreement has expired then you will be occupying the property under a statutory periodic tenancy which means that you need only serve one months notice to vacate if the rent is paid monthly and that notice must expire on the final day of a rent period.
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