This page gives an overview of your rights as someone with a mental health problem in the following situations:
Our legal pages on discrimination when buying, renting or living in property also have more information.
(Please note: the legal information on this page only applies to adults living in England and Wales.)
Quick tips on asserting your housing rights:
- Get a letter from your GP, or another health or social care professional, to show how an issue has affected your mental health, or how your mental health affects the issue.
- Keep records as evidence. Take photographs and keep copies of any letters, emails and text messenger correspondence. If you have a verbal conversation with someone make a note of it afterwards, including the date and the person’s name.
The condition of the property I rent is making my mental health problem worse
According to the law, whoever you rent from, your home should be free from hazards to your physical and mental health (including communal parts and outside space). You can read about common health hazards, and how risks to your health and safety should be assessed, on Shelter’s website here.
If you rent from the council or from a housing association, or you live in sheltered or supported housing, then your home must also meet the government’s ‘Decent Homes Standard’. See Shelter’s page on what counts as a ‘decent home’ for information about what this means.
What is my landlord legally required to fix?
There are certain things that your landlord is always legally responsible for, no matter what it says in your tenancy agreement. See Shelter’s information on landlord and tenant responsibilities for repairs for details. Your landlord is also required to make any repairs they’re responsible for within a reasonable timeframe – although what’s reasonable will depend on what the problem is.
However, your landlord is not responsible for fixing things if:
- they don’t know about the problem because you haven’t told them about it, or
- you’ve caused the problem yourself by not taking reasonable care of the property.
Should I stop paying my rent?
No. If you don’t pay your rent on time then your landlord could take steps to evict you.
However, if the repairs are minor you might be able to organise it yourself and agree to deduct the cost from your rent. See Shelter’s guide to doing repairs when your landlord won't for advice on this.
What if I’ve not taken care of the property because of my mental health problem?
If you and your landlord disagree over the cause of a particular problem and whose responsibility it is to fix it, or you feel you're being discriminated against, then it’s best to get professional legal advice on your specific situation – especially if you’re being threatened with eviction as a result of the disagreement.
If your home is in a bad state because of your mental health problem and you're struggling to maintain it, then you may be able to get support from your local council. See our legal pages on your health and social care rights for more information on this.
How can I make my landlord meet their legal responsibilities to fix my home?
Unfortunately, landlords and councils don’t always do what they’re legally required to. If you’re sure a problem is definitely your landlord’s responsibility to fix, you can take these steps:
- Report the problem to your landlord, and encourage them to meet their responsibilities. It’s usually best to resolve issues informally like this if you can.
Report your landlord to the environmental health department of your local council. You can do this regardless of who you rent from. An inspector may be sent round to assess your home for health hazards, but the powers they have may vary depending on whether you rent privately or not. See Shelter’s guide to this here.
Make a formal complaint (if your landlord is a council or housing association). See Shelter’s guide to this here. If you’re not happy with their response, you can take your complaint to:
- If you rent privately see Shelter’s guide to this here.
- If you rent through the council or a housing association, see Shelter’s guide to this here.
Take them to court. If you win your case you could get compensation, but be aware that court proceedings can often be expensive and stressful. You can only get legal aid for cases about the condition of your home if it is a danger to your health. See Shelter’s guide to this here.
- the Housing Ombusdman (in England) – see Shelter’s guide to this here
- the Public Service Ombudsman (in Wales) – see Shelter’s guide to this here.