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Deal with flooding in a rented home - overview

This advice applies to England

Your landlord is responsible for repairs if your rented home is affected by flooding, from rain or an issue with a neighbouring property. Your landlord is unlikely to be responsible if you caused the flooding yourself.

This responsibility includes:

  • fixing damage to the structure of your home
  • making sure your water, gas, electricity, sanitation and heating are working

Tell your landlord as soon as possible if your rented home has flooded and needs repairs. Your landlord must then carry out the repairs within a reasonable period of time, agreed between you depending on the type of work to be done.

You don’t need to move out if you can get safely from room to room while repairs are being done. You might be able to get a temporary rent reduction (or claim for one later) if you can’t use every room. Your landlord is legally responsible for protecting you and your belongings during this time.

If you’re homeless due to flooding

If you can't continue to live in your home because of flood damage and you have nowhere else to live, ask your local council to help you.

You should be treated as a priority case because this is an emergency. Your local council has a legal responsibility to find you and your family a suitable temporary home if you’re eligible for assistance.

You might have to register as homeless to get this process going. You’ll find lots of helpful information on housing charity Shelter’s website www.shelter.org.uk, and you can contact your local Citizens Advice as well.

Move out temporarily

You must tell your landlord if your home is so badly damaged by flooding that you have to move out.

Your landlord doesn’t have to find alternative accommodation for you.

Don’t move out until:

  • you’ve told your landlord why you’re leaving
  • your landlord has confirmed you can move back in, on the same terms as before, once the repairs are done
  • your landlord has estimated how long the repairs are expected to take

Pay your rent if you’ve had to move out

Ask your landlord if they have insurance that covers the cost of temporary accommodation while repairs are made. If they don't, you should try to reach an agreement about your rent payment.

Ask your landlord to either:

  • suspend rent payments on the home you've moved out of
  • pay for temporary accommodation.

This is a complicated situation and you should contact your local Citizens Advice for help.

If you get Universal Credit

You can only get Universal Credit towards the rent of either your home or your temporary accommodation - not both.

If you’re only paying rent for your home

The amount of Universal Credit you get for your housing costs won’t change if both of the following apply:

  • you still pay the same rent for your home
  • you don’t pay rent for your temporary accommodation

You should tell the DWP you’ve moved, even if it won’t be for long.

If you’re only paying rent for temporary accommodation

If you’re paying rent for your temporary accommodation but you stopped paying rent for your home, you’ll need to tell the DWP about the change

Your Universal Credit payments might change if your rent has gone up or down - check how much Universal Credit you'll get. Any changes will last until you move back into your home and start paying your normal rent again.

If you’re paying rent for your home and temporary accommodation

You won’t get Universal Credit towards the cost of renting temporary accommodation while you’re still paying rent and getting Universal Credit for your home. 

If your landlord has reduced your rent while you’re not living there, the amount of Universal Credit you get for your housing costs might go down. You can check how much Universal Credit you'll get if the amount you’re paying for your rent has gone down.

You should ask your landlord to either:

  • suspend your rent payments while you’re not living there - this means you can get Universal Credit towards your temporary accommodation
  • go back to charging you the normal amount, but pay towards your temporary accommodation instead

It’s important they do this as soon as possible.

If you’re not sure what the best thing to do is, contact your local Citizens Advice for help.

You should tell the DWP you’ve moved, even if it won’t be for long.

If you get housing benefit

Your housing benefit can usually only go towards the rent for one property. Your local council will decide whether you can get housing benefit for the flooded home you've moved out of, or your alternative accommodation.

You might be able to get housing benefit for both properties if:

  • you can’t avoid paying both rents at the same time

  • your alternative accommodation needs adapting because you have a disability

Your local council will decide on this. In some cases, you might be able to appeal their decision.

If your landlord won’t help with your rent

You may have to go to court if your landlord refuses either to waive or reduce rent on your usual home, or to help you with the rent for your temporary accommodation.

A court might:

  • order your landlord to reduce your rent for the period that you’re unable to live in your home
  • award you compensation for things like inconvenience and distress

The amount of reduction or compensation awarded by the court will depend on:

  • how bad the damage is to your home
  • how long it will take to repair
  • other unforeseen factors

Replace your belongings

If your belongings are damaged as a result of flooding you can make a claim on your contents insurance.

If you don’t have contents insurance, your local council might be able to help you through their welfare assistance scheme. This can replace your furniture or household appliances, such as cookers. Each council runs their own scheme, so contact your local council and ask if they can help you. You can find your council's contact details on GOV.UK.

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