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Paying rent for bad housing

It’s frustrating if your home is in a bad state and your landlord is not fixing things. You should keep paying rent even if you’re unhappy.

This information is for private and social tenants.

It’s frustrating if your home is in a bad state and your landlord is not fixing things. You should keep paying rent even if you’re unhappy. Otherwise, your landlord can evict you. You can try negotiating with your landlord to reduce your rent.

Withholding rent to get repairs

Before you decide not to pay rent, speak to our advisers. It’s important to be sure the repairs in question are your landlord’s responsibility, and not yours. If you decide not to pay rent, you should:

  • write to tell your landlord you will not pay rent if they do not complete repairs 
  • give them a date you expect to hear back from them 
  • write again to tell them you’re not paying rent and why
  • keep copies of all the letters you send
  • keep rent money in a separate bank account to show you’re not using repairs as an excuse
  • on the date you would usually pay rent, give your landlord a statement from this account 

If you hire someone to do the repairs, make sure you:

  • give the landlord plenty of notice and a chance to do the repairs
  • get at least three quotes for the work 
  • send the quotes to the landlord and explain you’re choosing the cheapest 
  • keep copies of all letters you send to your landlord, and of quotes and receipts for the work 

Unfit properties becoming rent controlled

A property may be rent controlled if it’s in a certain state. Your council usually makes a recommendation and then the Rent Office for Northern Ireland decides what the rent should be. 

Your home might be rent controlled if it was built before 1945 and the council issued a:

  • notice of unfitness, or
  • notice of refusal to issue a certificate of fitness (not all properties need this)

You can check if your home is rent controlled. Rent control ends if the landlord gets a certificate of fitness.

Adjustments for someone with a disability

Your landlord must make reasonable adjustments to accommodate a disability for you or someone in your household. Your landlord may be exempt if the changes:

  • are very expensive
  • will reduce the property’s value
  • will make it harder to rent out the property in the future

Speak to our advisers if your landlord is not helping you with adjustments.

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