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Going to court if your landlord won't do repairs

This advice applies to Wales

Check if this advice applies to you

This advice applies if you have an occupation contract with a private landlord.

If you have an occupation contract, your landlord should have given you a written statement. Check your written statement - it will say that you have an occupation contract.

Even if you don’t have a written statement, you’ll still usually have an occupation contract if you:

  • don’t live with your landlord
  • started renting on or after 15 January 1989

If you’re not sure, or you have a different kind of agreement with a private landlord, check your contract or tenancy type if you rent from a private landlord.

You can take your landlord to court if they won't do repairs after you've asked them.

You're more likely to win your case if you give the court as much evidence as possible. The judge will look at the evidence you and your landlord provide before making a decision.

The court could order your landlord to:

  • do the repairs
  • pay you compensation, for example if your health has been affected because they didn't do the repairs
  • pay some or all of your legal costs

You should read our advice on getting repairs done before taking your landlord to court.

Talk to an adviser if you're not sure if you should take your landlord to court.

Your landlord is likely to have a solicitor speaking for them in court. You might want to get a solicitor to speak for you in court too, if you'd rather have an expert present your case.

You'll usually have to pay for a solicitor, as well as any court fees.

You might be able to get help with your court costs if you're on a low income or claiming certain benefits.

Read more about getting help with legal costs.

If you win your case, you might get some of your costs back. This depends on your landlord's situation. You should also check if you can get help to cover the court costs - check if you can get legal aid on GOV.UK.

Write to your landlord

Before you can take your landlord to court, you'll need to write to your landlord to give them a last chance to do the repairs. Do this by sending a letter or email. If you have a letting agent, send the letter to them too.

If you decide to take your landlord to court, you'll need evidence that you've tried to sort the problem out with your landlord first. Read more about getting repairs done.

Tell your landlord they have 20 working days to do the repairs or make a reasonable arrangement to do them. Explain that you'll start court action if they don't.

Your letter should include full details of the repairs, for example:

  • what needs repairing
  • when you reported the problem to them - and if you had to report it more than once
  • any problems you've had because the repairs weren't done - for example if you've got a health condition like asthma that's got worse

You can find a full list of what you need to include and a sample letter on GOV.UK.

Keep a copy of the letter and any reply you get. Your landlord might offer to do the repairs or come to an agreement, which could be less stressful than going to court.

If you haven't reached an agreement with your landlord within 20 working days, you can take them to court.

Talk to an adviser if you need help filling in the form.

Fill in the court form

To start taking your landlord to court, you'll need to fill in and print form N1 . You should use the notes in form N1A to help you.

Write as much detail as possible - you can use a separate piece of paper if there's not enough room on the form.

Make sure you have as much evidence as possible to back up your claim. You'll need to be able to prove that you asked your landlord for repairs and they didn't do them. You'll also have to prove your landlord is responsible for repairs.

Find out more about getting repairs done.

If you're worried that your evidence isn't good enough, you can ask your local council's Environmental Health department to inspect the problem and make a report. Find your local council's contact details on GOV.UK.

Get together any evidence you can before you go to court, for example:

  • a copy of letters or emails you sent to your landlord or local council about the repairs
  • photographs of what needs repairing
  • receipts for items you've had to replace, for example furniture or carpets
  • a copy of your written statement
  • a report from any experts you've paid to look at the problem - this is optional

You should send this evidence with your form.

If you need help completing the court claim form, you can talk to an adviser.

Send the form to your local county court

You should send 3 copies of the form to your local county court. You can find the address of your local county court on GOV.UK.

You'll need to pay a fee with your court form.

Talk to an adviser if you're not sure what court fees you'll need to pay.

After you've sent your claim form

The court will send you paperwork with details of your claim. You'll usually need to send a copy to your landlord, unless you've asked the court to do it for you.

You'll also be given a date for the hearing. It's likely to be in several months' time depending on how busy the court is.

Your landlord might also make a defence against your claim. Talk to an adviser if you get a defence form from your landlord.

Going to the court hearing

You'll have to go to the court hearing. You can take a friend or relative with you for support. Ask them to take notes at the hearing if you think it would help you remember important points later.

The court will look at all the evidence you and your landlord have provided.

You might have more than one hearing, for example if the court asks you or your landlord for more evidence.

You should send any new evidence by the date given by the court. If you send evidence late, the court might not use it.

Once the court has made a decision, your landlord could be ordered to:

  • do the repairs
  • pay you compensation, for example if your health has been affected because they didn't do the repairs
  • pay some or all of your legal costs

If your landlord ignores the court's decision

Your landlord will be breaking the law if they don't follow the court's decision.

You might want to take further court action, for example if your landlord doesn't pay you compensation ordered by the court.

Talk to an adviser if you want to take further legal action against your landlord.

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