Tenants often question why they should pay rent when their property is suffering from serious disrepair. As such, many tenants withhold rent on the ground that their landlord has failed to uphold their responsibility of carrying out repair works to the property. In the circumstances whilst it is understandable why many tenants feel this way, it should be mentioned here that this is in no way a ground for withholding rent. It is a known fact that the process of withholding rent inevitably leads to the accumulation of rent arrears, which could in turn lead to your landlord commencing possession proceedings against you, putting you at risk of eviction!
When taking on a housing disrepair claim, Arkas Law always asks whether a tenant has rent arrears. Some of our client’s have told us that they have refused to pay rent and continue to not do so on the very same ground mentioned above. Whilst we empathise with our clients, we always advise them against this course of action, especially given the fact this will not only fail to achieve their desired outcome, but will also put them in an extremely vulnerable position in the near future, when the rent arrears increase so much so that they are unable to afford to repay them.
Part of what Arkas Law try to achieve for their client’s following the successful completion of remedial works, is seeking an award of compensation where appropriate (dependent on individual circumstances). Now, be under no illusion, where a tenant is in rent arrears, any award of compensation will be subject to the principle of “off-setting” whereby a landlord requires any debt owed to them (arrears) to be deducted from any offer of compensation in the first instance. In this situation, even if a tenant has a payment plan in place, where a landlord is insistent on taking this course of action, there is little, if anything, that can be done to change their mind. Therefore, tenant’s who are considering using their rent as a weapon, to force their Landlord’s to carry out works, your safest option would be to stay away from this dangerous route. Instead exhaust all other avenues and seek legal advice.