Going to court for repairs in council or housing association homes

If you cannot resolve repair problems yourself, the sheriff court can force your council or housing association to fix them. A solicitor can help you decide if court action is right for you, and legal aid could cover your fees if you cannot afford them.

Before taking legal action

Step 1: contact your landlord informally

Your problem could be fixed if you ask them to put it right.

Step 2: collect proof

You will need to support any claims you make. Keep any evidence you have about your repair issue, including photographs, receipts of things you’ve replaced and letters.

Step 3: make an official complaint

Follow our steps to complain about your council or complain about your housing association.

Step 4: consider alternatives to court

A housing adviser can help you decide whether court action is suitable for you. Alternative dispute resolution is usually a cheaper, faster and more informal way to resolve a housing dispute without going to court.

If your landlord will not do repairs they’re responsible for

The court can order your landlord to fix the repairs within a certain amount of time. If your landlord does not comply, you will be entitled to compensation.

For repairs under £5000, use a court process called simple procedure. You do not need a solicitor when using simple procedure but you can choose to hire one.

You can submit a simple procedure application online, and Citizens Advice has guidance on simple procedure to help you.

For repairs over £5000, use a court process called ordinary cause. You will need the help of a solicitor.

If repair issues are affecting your health

Apply to the sheriff court for an abatement order.

Before doing this, you must write to your landlord:

  • explaining what the repair problem is

  • giving them 21 days to put it right

  • warning them you will take them to court if it’s not fixed

If the problem is not fixed after 21 days you can apply to the sheriff court. You will need the help of a solicitor.

The court can order your landlord to fix any repairs. If your landlord does not comply, the court can choose how to penalise them.

Finding a solicitor

You can search for a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland or the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

Paying for legal advice

If you hire a solicitor you will need to pay their fees.

You could get free legal advice or legal aid funding towards your fees if you cannot afford them.

Going to court

The Scottish Courts website has application forms, contact details and guidance on attending court.

Last updated: 29 June 2022

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England