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.

Search for a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland or the Scottish Legal Aid Board websites.

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.

Making your landlord do repairs

If your landlord will not do repairs when you report them, you can take legal action.

Taking your private landlord to court for repairs

Taking your council or housing association to court for repairs

Money disputes

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.

Check your rights when you break up with someone

Going to court

Go to the Scottish Courts website for application forms, contact details and guidance on attending court.

Last updated: 30 March 2022

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England