Getting compensation if you rent from the council or a housing association

If the council or housing association broke the law or they owe you money, you can apply to the sheriff court for compensation.

Compensation claims are not straightforward. You may need legal advice before taking action.

The process is different if you rent from a private landlord or letting agent.

Before taking court action

Give the council or housing association reasonable time to resolve a dispute before taking legal action.

If they've done something wrong, make an official complaint first. We have guidance on:

If repairs have not been done on time

Some repairs must be done within a set timescale. If they miss the deadline you can claim compensation.

Use our repair checker to see if your repair issue has a deadline.

Withholding rent

Withholding rent to get money from your landlord is risky. Your landlord might try to evict you for rent arrears.

It's safer to keep paying your rent and claim what you're owed at court.

Check our guidance on withholding rent

Getting advice before taking legal action

If you're not sure whether you need legal advice, contact a Shelter Scotland adviser. They can help you work out your rights and find the right legal help.

You can also check our guidance on getting free legal advice or legal aid.

Applying to court for compensation

For claims under £5000, use a court process called simple procedure. You can do this yourself and usually you do not need a solicitor. Check the Citizens Advice guidance on applying for simple procedure.

For claims over £5000, you will need the help of a solicitor to apply using ordinary cause.

Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland website

If you’re awarded compensation

The court will usually set a deadline for the council or housing association to pay.

If they do not pay, sheriff officers can enforce the payment order. They cost money to hire. Get quotes from different sheriff officers before you decide.

To find a sheriff officer search on the Society of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers website.

Last updated: 13 June 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England