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If you are renting a property, you might be wondering if you will ever be expected to have to hire tradesmen. While a number of larger repair and maintenance jobs, such as organising gas safety checks or ensuring the safety of any electrical wiring, will be the responsibility of your landlord, there are still a number of situations which may require you to hire a tradesman as a tenant. It could be that you are repairing damage which you caused, or you may need emergency repair work which the landlord has failed to provide.

Regardless of your reason for wanting to hire tradesmen, it is important to know exactly what you are getting yourself in for. Be sure to ask around for several quotes before making a choice on who to hire and keep a copy of any invoices or receipts in case you can claim the money back from your landlord. You will also need to take your time in searching for a top notch Pro, as any damage done to the property by shoddy work could give your landlord the chance to deduct from your deposit, or even evict you!

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Can a rental tenant hire a tradesman?

The short answer is ‘yes’; the long answer is ‘yes, but never do it unless you have to.’

The reason we say this is that, legally speaking, it is your landlord who is responsible for maintaining several different aspects of your property, including:

  • The structure and exterior of building, including the walls, stairs, roof, external doors and banisters
  • Toilets, baths, sinks and drains pipes
  • Hot water and heating
  • Ventilation and chimneys
  • Electrical wiring and portable appliances provided with the property
  • Gas appliances
  • Common areas such as entrance halls and shared kitchens
  • Repairing any damage caused to the decor by poor repair work which the landlord arranged

However, there are still circumstances where a tenant may need to book a tradesman themselves. For example, tenants are responsible for repairing any damage which they cause, such as broken furniture. In this case, they may prefer to hire a tradesman themselves rather than letting the landlord choose a quote for the work.

There are also cases where a tenant may need to hire a tradesman because their landlord refuses to. In such a situation, the best thing to do once you have already spoken to your landlord multiple times is to contact your local council. They can arrange a HHSRS (Housing Health and Safety Rating System) inspection, which will identify any serious flaws in your property so that the landlord can be held accountable. The council can then serve notice to the landlord to have them repair these flaws, or even arrange the work and then bill the landlord once it is completed.

An important thing to get through your head now is that you should never try to pressure your landlord by refusing to pay rent. If you do this, your landlord can simply evict you.

One thing that you can do however is to deduct the cost of hiring a tradesman from your rental payments. You cannot simply start doing this out of the blue; instead what you need is a well established paper trail to show that your landlord was aware of the necessary work, along with your intention to hire a Pro, and failed to respond appropriately.

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Reducing rent payments to pay for repair or maintenance work

Start by informing your landlord, with a letter or ideally via email, that you need a tradesman hired for a serious issue, specifying what it is and how long it has been a problem for. Be sure to use the address provided in your tenant agreement. You will also need to keep a record of any responses as things move along. At this stage it will also be worth contacting a council representative and letting your landlord know that you have done so.

If after this the landlord still refuses to book a tradesman, you will need to write to them again letting them know that you intend to hire a Pro on your own. Give them a deadline, around 2 weeks, to resolve the problem themselves, saying that you will deduct the cost of hiring the Pro from your rental payments. It will also be worth reminding the landlord that if your belongings are damaged because of their failure to organise the work, you will be within your rights to apply for compensation.

At this point, take your time and collect quotes from several local tradesmen. It is important to make sure that you get a competitive price from a Pro who will do good quality work, so check reviews, ask your candidates about the work to test their knowledge and let them come for a site visit if they ask to do so. 

Once you have several quotes, send them to your landlord to let them know the cost of the work. Make clear that you will go with the cheapest quote, but only once the previously set deadline has passed. Do not book the Pro before this point, as if the landlord responds and books their own tradesman you may need to pay a cancellation fee for yours.

After the work is done, send the receipts to your landlord and ask them to refund the money. If they refuse, reply and remind them that you will be deducting the money from your rent payments, explaining when the deductions will start and how long they will last. If your landlord refuses to accept the arrangement, be sure to contact your local council. In an extreme case, you may need to take your landlord to court.