Getting your landlord to do repairs

Find out how to get repairs carried out properly and what to do if your landlord refuses to carry out a repair.

Report the repair to your landlord

Report the problem as soon as possible to your landlord - even if it's very minor you should still let your landlord know about it.

If the repair is urgent, report the repair in writing and phone your landlord to make sure the work is carried out as quickly as possible. You can download a sample letter.

If you don’t know your landlord’s address you can search for it on the Scottish Landlord Register. If you rent from a letting agent, they should tell you the landlord’s name and address if you ask for it in writing.

Ask your landlord to tell you what will be done about the problem, and when the repairs will be carried out. If it's affecting your health make sure you tell your landlord, sending them a doctor's note if possible. For example, if you have asthma, this may be aggravated by dampness.

Date the letter and keep a copy. Using recorded delivery and keeping the delivery certificate means you can prove your landlord knows about the repair. This will be helpful if you need to take action to force your landlord to carry out the repair.

How long should my landlord take to do the repairs?

Repairs should be carried out within a reasonable time. There are no fixed time limits for repairs - the length of time that's reasonable depends on the type of repair. Certain repairs, eg a blocked drain or a problem with the gas, should be carried out urgently.

What if my landlord doesn't do the repairs?

If your landlord hasn't carried out the repairs after a reasonable period of time, there are several things you can do.

Before deciding what action to take, you need to think about:

  • how easily you can be evicted

  • how serious the problem is

  • whether you want to stay in the property.

Can my landlord evict me?

Some landlords may prefer to make you leave rather than do repairs. Private tenants with short tenancies can be evicted fairly easily. For example, people who share accommodation with their landlord and short assured tenants nearing the end of their leases.

There might be a risk that your landlord will try to illegally evict or harass you if you try to force them to carry out repairs. These are criminal offences, if you think your landlord is guilty of either talk to an adviser.

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Is it a repair or an improvement?

Minor repairs can sometimes be seen as improvements and not repairs. If something in the property breaks and needs to be replaced with something new, this is a repair. However, asking for something new for your benefit is an improvement. For example, if your shower breaks and you need a new one, this is a repair. If you don't have a shower but you decide you'd like one, this is an improvement.

If the problems with your accommodation are relatively minor, or can be seen to be improvements, it might be difficult to force your landlord to take action.

Can I force my landlord to carry out repairs?

If you are reasonably secure in your tenancy and don't want to move out, you may be able to force your landlord to carry out the repairs. Firstly, write to your landlord to warn them you will be taking further steps. Download a sample letter to send to your landlord.

There are several things you can do. The most appropriate course of action depends on your circumstances, what repairs are needed and your tenancy type.

First Tier Tribunal for Scotland

If something needs to be repaired and your landlord is refusing to cooperate, you can apply to the First Tier Tribunal for Scotland. The tribunal can order your landlord to carry out repairs make a rent relief order to reduce your rent if they don't.

Withholding rent

You could consider withholding rent however this can be risky. Always talk to an adviser before withholding rent.

Doing the repairs yourself

If the repairs are fairly minor, it may be easier to carry them out yourself and take the cost from your rent. However, you must get your landlord's agreement before doing so.

Taking your landlord to court

As a last resort, you may decide to take court action against your landlord.

What if I live in an HMO?

If you live in a house in multiple occupation (HMO), you will have more rights to repair than a private tenant in non-HMO accommodation. This is because the repairing standard for HMOs is more rigorous than the repairing standard for non-HMO accommodation. For example, the HMO licensing conditions require that:

  • rooms must be of a decent size

  • the facilities must be adequate for the number of people living in the property

  • all electrical appliances must be tested.

If your home doesn't reach these standards, you can complain to the council - read the page on HMOs to find out more about HMO standards and how you can ensure they're enforced. You can also use the routes open to all private tenants, such as complaining to the PRHP (provided you have a tenancy and not an occupancy agreement).

Getting evidence

Before taking any action, you should collect all the evidence you can of the repairs that are needed and what you have done to get your landlord to carry them out.

Examples of evidence you could use:

  • photographs - showing the repairs that need to be done

  • damaged belongings - the damage must have been caused by the problem, eg clothes damaged by dampness

  • an inspection by an expert - eg a surveyor, an adviser at an advice centre may be able to arrange this for you

  • copies of letters sent to your landlord - such as any letter you've sent to report a repair

  • copies of doctor's notes or hospital reports - which show that your health has been damaged by the problem

  • receipts for anything you've paid for because of the repair problem - eg if you had to replace clothes or furnishings because of mould.

What if I decide to move out?

If the problems you are having with disrepair in your home are really bad and your landlord is refusing to cooperate, you may want to end your tenancy and look for somewhere else to live. If you still have a few months to go on your lease (for example, if you have a short assured tenancy for six months and have only lived there for two), your landlord may ask you to continue paying rent until your lease is up. However, you shouldn't be liable to pay this because, by refusing to carry out essential repairs, your landlord is breaking a term of your tenancy contract.

You may be able to raise an action in court for breach of contract and damages once you have moved out - a solicitor can tell you more about this.

If the state of the property is so bad that it is damaging your health or the health of anyone else in your family, you could make homeless application to the council. If it is no longer reasonable or safe for you to live in your home, the council may consider you to be legally homeless.

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

Last updated: 9 October 2020

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