Problems with repairs in council or housing association homes

Your landlord must complete repairs they’re responsible for. If they do not, they could be forced to fix repairs and you could be entitled to a rent reduction or compensation. You cannot be evicted for complaining about repairs.

Not all repairs are your landlord’s responsibility. Check who's responsible for repairs in council or housing association homes.

Complaining about repairs

You have the right to complain if your landlord is not doing repairs or if they’re not done properly.

For example, if the work:

  • is not up to standard

  • has been delayed or not finished

  • has caused other repair problems

  • has damaged internal decorations or your belongings

Step 1: contact your landlord informally

Before formally complaining, talk to your council or housing association if you can. Your issue could be resolved by speaking with them. Get them to write down any agreement you come to.

Step 2: send a formal complaint if they’re responsible

Email or write to the council or your housing association. Their contact details will be in your tenant handbook.

Keep copies of any letters or emails.

When you write, include:

  • what you're complaining about

  • when the problem started

  • what you've done to try and sort it out

  • what you want them to do

  • your contact details

  • any evidence, including:

    • inspection notes by an expert

    • receipts for things you’ve replaced

    • a doctor’s note if your health is affected

    • photographs of the repair and items damaged by the problem

Send letters by recorded delivery and keep copies of emails.

Use our template letter to complain about repair work not done to help you know what to say.

You must get a response within 5 working days.

Step 3: if you’re not happy with their reply

Ask them to look at your complaint again and send a final response. They must do this within 20 working days.

You could get help from the council's environmental health department to support your complaint. They will usually only get involved if:

  • you have already been through the official complaints procedure

  • the problem is affecting your health or making your home unfit for you to live in

Step 4: if it's still not resolved

If your issue is still not resolved you can either complain to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman or go to sheriff court.

The ombudsman is a free independent service that resolves disputes and complaints. You must complain to them within a year of the problem starting.

Get legal advice from a solicitor so you know if going to court is right for you and follow our guidance on taking your landlord to court for repairs.

Find a solicitor from the Law Society of Scotland.

You could get legal help for free or at a lower cost.

Getting a rent reduction because of repairs

If repairs cause serious disruption, for example, if you cannot use all the rooms in your home, you could be entitled to a rent reduction. This is called rent abatement.

The amount you can claim depends on how much of your home you can use. If half your home cannot be used, you can claim a 50 percent rent reduction.

Get advice from a Shelter Scotland adviser. They can tell you if you’re entitled to a rent reduction and if you should claim for it in court.

Withholding rent for repairs

This is not recommended because you could be evicted for rent arrears.

Before withholding rent get advice from a Shelter Scotland adviser and follow our guidance on withholding rent correctly.

Claiming compensation because of repairs

Compensation from the Right to Repair scheme

Certain repairs must be fixed within a set timeframe, and you could get compensation if there are delays. This is called the Right to Repair scheme. This compensation is claimed through your council or housing association.

Check your repair’s timeframe with our repair checker tool.

Going to court for compensation

The sheriff court can order your landlord to give you compensation if repairs cause:

  • inconvenience

  • damage to your health

  • damage to your property, including your belongings

Compensation depends on factors including the value of damaged belongings and if the repairs have caused any injury.

You will usually need a solicitor to work out how much compensation you’re owed and to help you in court.

Find a solicitor from the Law Society of Scotland.

You could get legal help for free or at a lower cost.

Doing repairs yourself

You must follow the correct process if you decide to organise repair work yourself. If you do not, you could be evicted.

Follow our guidance on doing repair work yourself.

If you’re worried about eviction

You cannot be evicted for complaining about repairs.

If you’re worried that you will be evicted for acting on your rights get advice from Shelter Scotland.

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