Can I repair my flat's oven and bill landlord for it?

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    Can I repair my flat's oven and bill landlord for it?

    Overview of query

    I want to take care of fixing the oven myself in the flat I am renting, and to then withhold what it costs from the rent, because my landlord / his appointed property managers have a clear track record of taking quite unreasonably long to make repairs, even though they’ve always been paid rent on time and in full. Can I do this? I am under a periodic tenacy (I think) pending the outcome of a court clam I've made on unrelated grounds.


    The oven in the flat I am renting is broken. It no longer bakes or roasts; only the grill works. It is thus unfit for most of the things I cook (and of course won’t be any good for Xmas turkey, cookies etc.). As it was one of the seeling points made about the flat when we signed our first AST, and I consider it a major necessity, I want it repaired at the landlord's expense.

    The problem is that the landlord’s appointed property management is, to put it kindly, close to useless. When left to their own devices, over the past 2 years or so it has taken them, for example

    -- 3 weeks to fix a toilet which, when flushed, leaked water at the base, soaking the carpet with not very pleasant water
    -- 6 weeks to replace broken power shower
    -- 8 months to fix a leaky tap
    -- 9 months (and counting) to repair a faulty doorbell

    In none of these cases have delays been due to difficulty in finding an exotic replacement part, etc; rather they have been due to delays in the property managers sending someone around in the first place. Several times I’d called to enquire about the status of outstanding requests, only to be told by the managers that they had thought they’d already been handled. (The managers, whose principal business is as an estate agency, seem to regard management as an afterthought).

    I have always paid my rent on time and in full, even though I felt I was receiving less than full value for money, as the landlord wasn’t meeting his responsibilities to keep the flat in proper order. I have appealed to him to give the management company a nudge on several occasions, to no apparent avail. He tends to be too busy “juggling business obligations” (as though maintenance of the flat he rents out is not one!) and in general can’t be bothered.

    I am not only sick of this on principle, but in this case, I really want the oven working quickly – it’s a basic living necessity -- I’m not going to grill everything, eat microwave meals or eat out.

    As past experience shows that the passive approach doesn’t work very well, I would like to inform the landlord and mangers in writing of the problem, to give them 5 working days to arrange for a repairman to come, at the end of which, if no repairman comes, I will arrange for one to come myself, pay to have the work done, give them the invoice, and withhold the cost of the repair from the rent.

    Am I within my rights to do this? What risks does this involve?

    (One potentially relevant factor: I am on a periodic tenancy (I believe). I’d been under annual two consecutive annual ASTs, though this spring I refused to renew until the estate agency agreed to place my deposit (from the first renewal, signed a few months after the April 2007 law took effect) in a deposit protection scheme unless I paid them £350. I have filed a claim in county court, and we have a court date of next Spring. Meanwhile, as I have not renewed when the last AST expired in May, but continue to pay rent, and have not been asked to leave, my understanding is I am on a periodic tenancy by default.

    Please not that my query is NOT about deposit protection schemes; the above detail is only for background; I only raise it to know if it affects my ability to fix the oven problem as proposed above. )

    I would be grateful for any advice

    Always double check advice... not just mine!




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