Using the courts to enforce your housing rights
If you cannot fix a housing problem yourself, the courts can make decisions. Try to sort it out yourself before using the courts. Get legal advice from a solicitor so you know if going to court is right for you.
Before using the courts
Write to the person
Write to the person causing your housing problem and say what you want them to do. Putting your concerns in a letter could get it fixed without using the courts.
If you have a dispute with the person you rent from, make an official complaint. Follow our guidance on complaining about:
Get legal advice
Legal advice can help you decide whether court action is suitable for you. You could get free or affordable legal advice.
A solicitor can help you avoid court by writing to the person for you. They will tell you when alternative dispute resolution would be right for you.
If someone else is taking you to court, always get legal advice. It's complicated to represent yourself, and a solicitor can help.
Common reasons you might use the courts
These are some examples of using the courts to enforce housing rights.
Citizens Advice Scotland has further guidance on taking legal action and court procedures.
Get advice from a Shelter Scotland housing adviser if you cannot find what you need.
The courts can order someone to pay you money that they owe you, such as:
your flatmate who damaged your belongings
your neighbour who will not pay their share of repair costs
For claims under £5000, use a court process called simple procedure. You can do this yourself and usually you do not need a solicitor. Use 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.
Problems with a council or housing association’s decision
You can go to court to review the decision of a council, housing association or other public body. This is called judicial review. This can be used when:
you made a homeless application and the council did not help you
the council ignored evidence that temporary accommodation was unsuitable for your family
a housing association did not give you the right points on your housing application
A judicial review asks the courts to look at:
how the decision was made
whether the decision was made lawfully
This is a complicated area of law and is a last resort to fix a problem. Before asking for a judicial review, you must make an official complaint. A solicitor can help you decide if judicial review is right for you and make an application.
There is a time limit for judicial reviews. You must apply within 3 months of the date the public body made their decision.
Staying in your home when you break up with a partner
The court can issue an order so you can stay in your home when you break up with your partner. This could be when:
you live with your ex-partner but they signed the contract and pay the rent
your ex-partner moved out of a house they own and you need time to get the house put in your name
This is a complicated area of law, and you should get a solicitor to help you.
Going to court
Last updated: 30 March 2022