Explains how your mental health and your housing situation might affect each other. Provides tips on how to cope and where you can get more support.
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.)
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.
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:
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.
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:
Kenny has severe depression, and struggles to maintain his rented flat in any way. He's noticed there is a large damp patch in his kitchen, which is causing mould growth on the walls and ceilings.
Kenny suspects the damp comes from a leaking water pipe somewhere. He texts his landlord to tell her about the problem, but after several months his landlord has done nothing, and the mould has got worse. She says that it's Kenny's fault because he never cleans or opens the windows in his flat to ventilate it, so it's not her responsibility to fix.
Kenny asks his GP to write a short letter saying how his depression has been a factor in worsening the state of his home, and also how the damp and mould has been been affecting his mental health. Kenny shows the GP's letter and the texts he has sent his landlord to the council, who send a health inspector round to the property.
After assessing the damp, the inspector writes to the landlord and suggests a schedule of repairs for her to carry out to the water pipes. He also suggests that Kenny contact the council's social services department and ask for his needs to be assessed, to see if he can get support to help maintain him home better.
Whether or not your landlord needs to have a particular reason to evict you depends on how you occupy your home:
If your mental health problem is classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, then the law protects you from being unlawfully discriminated against.
Your landlord can’t evict you just because they find out you have a particular mental health problem – this is likely to be direct discrimination. This is the case even if the landlord does not need a reason to evict you (for example, because you are an assured shorthold tenant).
It might also be considered ‘discrimination arising from disability’ if your landlord is trying to evict you because:
If your landlord goes to court to claim possession of your home, and you say this is discrimination, then the court will have to look closely at the details of your situation. They will need to carefully balance:
If the court decides that the landlord's reasons are ‘justified’, then it's not discrimination for them to evict you. But the court may consider alternative solutions to try instead.
Her mental health problem is a factor in her regularly shouting through the walls at her next-door neighbour, whom she believes is spying on her. Priya's neighbour has complained that her behaviour is antisocial, and the landlord takes Priya to court to try to evict her. Priya claims that this is discrimination arising from her disability.
After carefully looking at her case, the court decides that it would not be justified for the landlord to evict Priya, because eviction would be disproportionate to the situation (over the top). The court decides to make a 'suspended order for possession', which means that so long as Priya stops doing the antisocial behaviour she can stay in her flat. However, if she carries on doing antisocial behaviour the landlord will then be allowed to go ahead with evicting her.
If your landlord does start eviction proceedings then it’s very important to get professional housing advice.
If you have nowhere to live when you leave hospital, or there are problems with where you live (such as rent arrears or disrepair), then there are several things you can do:
For more information on your rights see our legal pages on leaving hospital. We also have more general tips on managing your housing situation during hospital stays.
If you’re homeless or threatened with homelessness then your local council has to provide you with support to help you stay in your home or find accommodation. This may mean that they have to provide somewhere for you to live, depending on your circumstances.
However, if your council say you are “intentionally homeless” then they may only provide you with support for a short period of time. This might be if:
Each local council has its own policy for allocating social housing, but most will not allocate council housing to people who have been evicted for rent arrears or antisocial behaviour unless there are exceptional circumstances.
For information on your rights if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness see:
This information was published in June 2018. We will revise it in 2020.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.