Taking your landlord to the tribunal

If you have a dispute with your private landlord or letting agent, you can apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber).

Going to a case discussion or hearing

If your application is accepted, the tribunal can hold a case discussion or hearing.

It's important that you attend or someone attends on your behalf. You'll be more likely to win your case if you're there to explain it.

Case discussions and hearings are fairly informal, and the tribunal will help you understand what is happening.

What a case discussion or hearing is

A case discussion is usually held first. It’s a chance for everyone to discuss the problem and see if an agreement can be made. The tribunal will call this a case management discussion or a CMD.

The tribunal can decide to hold a hearing if:

  • you cannot reach an agreement

  • they need more information

  • they want to look at evidence or hear from witnesses

The tribunal can make a final decision at either a case discussion or a hearing.

Where and when you'll attend

Case discussions and hearings take place Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm.

Currently, they happen by telephone conference call. You usually do not need to appear in person.

You can ask the tribunal to meet in person or have a video call instead. They should take into account any accessibility needs you have when deciding.

If you need an interpreter, they’ll usually arrange a video call or in person hearing.

Who goes to a case discussion or hearing

There are usually 2 employees of the tribunal, called a legal member and an ordinary member. They’ll ask questions and make the decision.

A tribunal clerk will usually let you into the conference call and explain what will happen.

Your landlord or letting agent should be there. They can also send a solicitor in their place.

If you want to bring someone for support

You can bring someone to support you. This can be a friend, family member or someone you trust. They cannot directly take part in the case discussion or hearing, but they can:

  • give you moral support

  • help you organise documents or evidence

  • tell you about what's happening

  • remind you of things to say that would help your case

Tell the tribunal in advance if you're bringing anyone with you.

If you want someone else to speak for you

You can bring someone to speak on your behalf or appear in your place. They'll need to be familiar with the case so they can answer questions for you.

Tell the tribunal in advance if someone will speak on your behalf.

Getting legal representation

In most cases, you do not need a solicitor to represent you.

If you decide to hire a solicitor, they can represent you and make your case at the tribunal.

A solicitor will charge for their work and it can be expensive. Consider how much compensation you are asking for. It could be less than the legal fees you’d pay a solicitor.

You can find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland website. You may be eligible for free legal advice or legal aid to help with costs.

Representing yourself at the tribunal

Prepare your evidence

Make sure you have evidence to support the outcome you want. The tribunal will take into account what you say when making a decision.

Be specific about how the problem has impacted you. For example:

  • if repair problems have affected your health, you could provide a doctor's letter to support this

  • if your deposit was not protected, explain why any deductions your landlord made were unfair

  • if your landlord did not return your deposit, explain how it’s affected your ability to pay your rent or bills

  • if your landlord did not give you a tenancy agreement, explain how not knowing your rights affected you – for example, it could have put you at risk of illegal eviction

You can use copies of texts or emails from your landlord as evidence. Show how often you asked them to put the problem right.

If you have witnesses, they can give evidence to support your case. Tell the tribunal in advance about any witnesses you have.

Being asked questions

You can be asked questions about your evidence. This is an informal process. The tribunal will try to understand information they think is relevant, but they should not interrogate you or try to pick holes in your case.

It will help you if you are:

  • familiar with your evidence

  • able to explain how your evidence supports your application

  • honest and consistent in what you say to the tribunal

Your landlord or their representative can ask you questions as well. The tribunal will make sure these questions are appropriate and relevant.

If you need to miss the case discussion or hearing

Tell the tribunal as soon as you can. Explain why you cannot attend and ask to reschedule for a date and time that suits you.

If you do not go, a decision can be made without you. If you are not there and not represented, the decision could go against you.

If a decision was made without you present

You may be able to recall the hearing.

Contact the tribunal as soon as you can and explain why you did not attend. If you get a decision letter, you must do this within 14 days of the date on the letter.

The tribunal can either:

  • recall the hearing

  • hold a case discussion to see if a hearing should be recalled

  • dismiss your request

You can only recall the same case once.

There is more recall guidance on the tribunal 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