Complaining about a private landlord

This page gives some advice and tips on complaining to or about a private landlord if you have a problem with your tenancy. It also looks at how to complain about a landlord who rents out private property in your neighbourhood.

How do I complain about problems with my tenancy?

If you have a problem with your tenancy, there are several steps you can take to sort it out. Further down the page, you'll find links to more detailed information on solving problems with repairs, deposits, discrimination, harassment and antisocial behaviour.

Approaching your landlord

Usually, if you have a problem with your tenancy, the first thing you should do is discuss it with your landlord over the phone or in person. Your landlord may not realise that a problem has arisen, and may be able to put the situation right immediately.

If you don't feel comfortable approaching your landlord, you could ask a flatmate or friend to help you out, or get help from an advice agency (see 'where can I get help and advice' below).

If your landlord has behaved abusively towards you, it's probably best not to approach them in person - see 'problems with harassment' below for information on what to do in this situation.

Writing to your landlord

If you can't sort out the problem by talking to your landlord or if you feel they're ignoring you or not taking you seriously, you can try writing them a formal letter of complaint. You can download sample letters here to help you complain about problems with your deposit or disrepair.

If your landlord is a member of an accreditation scheme (see below) they should have a formal complaints process in place, which they should tell you about when you start your tenancy. 

Complaining to a landlord accreditation scheme

Your landlord may be a member of a landlord accreditation scheme - if so, they will probably display an accreditation logo on their headed paper or advertising materials. If they are a member of a scheme, it means they have agreed to keep to certain standards when letting out properties and dealing with tenants. If you think your landlord isn't meeting these standards you can complain using the accreditation scheme's formal complaints system.

Landlord Accreditation Scotland is a national scheme that any landlord in Scotland can join.

Complaining to the council

Most private landlords should be registered with the council. You can check to see whether your landlord is registered at the Scottish Government's landlord registration website, or by contacting the council. If they aren't registered, they're breaking the law, and could be charged a large fine.

Before the council will add a landlord to the register, it should check that they are a 'fit and proper person' to let out property. If your landlord is treating you badly and you don't think they are a

You can find out more about landlord registration here.

Problems with repairs

If you rent your home from a private landlord and you aren't happy with the standard of your accommodation, or the property needs repairs to be carried out, our section on repairs in private accommodation has information on action you can take and sample letters you can download.

Problems with discrimination

If you feel your landlord has discriminated against you (for example, by refusing to let property to you or treating you less favourably than other tenants) because of your gender, race, sexual orientation or gender identity, or because you're disabled, you may be able to take action against them. The section on discrimination explains this in more detail.

Problems with harassment

Harassment is a criminal offence. If your landlord is behaving abusively towards you or making your life miserable, you can get help - read the page on illegal eviction and harassment to find out how.

Problems with antisocial behaviour

Private landlords have to take reasonable action to tackle antisocial behaviour that's happening in any properties they rent out. So, if you've got a problem with antisocial behaviour in your neighbourhood, it's coming from a privately rented property, and you believe that the landlord isn't doing anything about it, you can complain about this to the council.

You can complain about this even if you aren't a tenant yourself.

If you're not sure who the landlord of a problem property is, you can check the landlord register (see 'complaining to the council' above).

Read the page on private landlords and antisocial behaviour to find out more.

Should I make a complaint?

If you're a tenant, making a formal complaint about your landlord should be your last resort. It might be possible to sort out problems with your landlord directly by speaking to them - you might find that the problem is simply due to a misunderstanding and your landlord will be happy to sort it out.

You should be especially careful about making complaints if you've got a short assured tenancy. Your landlord can't evict you simply because you've made a complaint. However, it's fairly easy for a landlord to bring a short assured tenancy to an end, so think carefully before making a complaint about trivial problems.

If you've made a complaint and your landlord is trying to evict you without following the correct procedures, this may well be an illegal eviction. If you're in this situation, get specialised advice immediately. 

Where can I get help and advice?

If you feel you need some help to deal with your landlord, you should get advice as soon as possible from a housing aid centre, Citizens Advice Bureau or other advice agency. An adviser will be able to:

  • tell you what your rights are

  • speak to, or write to, your landlord on your behalf

  • try to sort out the problem between you and your landlord.

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help. Get Help

Last updated: 24 January 2020

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England