Complaining about your private landlord

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

Check if this advice applies to you

This advice will usually apply to you if all the following are true:

  • you have a private landlord

  • you don’t live with your landlord

  • you started renting on or after 15 January 1989

In most cases this means you’ll have an ‘assured shorthold tenancy’ or ‘assured tenancy’.

This advice applies to people with one of these tenancies. It’s worth checking your tenancy agreement to make sure.

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

You can complain about your landlord if they’re doing something wrong or you’re unhappy with their behaviour, for example if:

  • they aren’t doing repairs they’re responsible for 

  • they’re harassing you, for example by entering your home without your permission

  • they discriminate against you, for example by charging you a higher rent or deposit than other tenants because of your nationality, race, age or sex

It’s best to speak to your landlord first to solve your problem. If this doesn’t help there are other steps you can take to complain.


Contact the police if there’s an emergency situation

If you have an emergency situation for example, you’re being illegally evicted or threatened with violence you should call the police straight away.

Don’t be afraid to make a complaint - you shouldn't have to put up with a bad service. The law is there to help you.

Your landlord can't just end your tenancy because you've made a complaint - but they might try, especially if you've got an assured shorthold tenancy. Talk to an adviser at your nearest Citizens Advice if you're worried about being evicted for making a complaint.

Check what you can do if your landlord has given you a ‘section 21’ eviction notice.

Speak to your landlord

You can often get your problem solved quickly by speaking to your landlord first. Explain what you’re unhappy about and ask them to sort out the problem.

Take someone with you for support when you speak to your landlord if you feel it will help you. If you don't want to speak to them face to face or on the phone you could email.

Before discussing the problem you should:

  • note down everything you want to say - you can refer to your notes during your conversation or put them in an email

  • Contact your nearest Citizens Advice to discuss the situation - they can check your legal rights and help you speak to your landlord 

You can find your landlord's name and contact details (including their address) on your tenancy agreement or your rent book. Ask your landlord or their agent for example, a family member that manages the property for the details if you can’t find them. They have to give them to you.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help if you can't get your landlord's contact details.


If speaking to your landlord doesn't help 

There are steps you can take to complain if your problem isn’t solved by speaking to or emailing your landlord.

Step 1: make a formal complaint  

You can make a formal complaint by writing a letter to your landlord.

Explain your problem and what you want them to do to solve it. Tell them what rights you have and what you think they should have done.

Talk to an adviser at your nearest Citizens Advice to find out what rights you have. For example they can tell you if your landlord has do certain repairs or help you check if you’ve been discriminated against.

Make sure your complaint letter is clear and includes evidence.

You should include in your letter:

  • what you’re complaining about

  • what you want them to do about the problem

  • dates and times the problem took place

  • details of any conversations with your landlord and what they agreed to do

  • copies of any letters or emails between you and your landlord

  • photographs - for example showing damage or disrepair, particularly if the problem gets worse over time

  • receipts for things you've had to pay for because of the problem - for example laundry bills if your washing machine broke down  

  • a note from your doctor (if possible) - if the problem has affected your health or safety

Step 2: complain to your local council

If making a formal complaint to your landlord doesn't solve your problem you might be able to complain to your local council.Your local council can only help with complaints about:

  •  repairs that cause a risk to your health and safety not being done  (e.g faulty electrical wiring not being fixed)

  • illegal eviction

  • harassment

  • dishonest or unfair trading behaviour  

If you complain about repairs not being done

Your council should contact you and your landlord to discuss the problem and explain the law if you complain about repairs not being done. They can inspect your home and order your landlord to do the repairs.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help if you’re worried about being evicted for asking for repairs - special rules apply that could protect you from eviction.

Find out more about getting repairs done.

If you complain about being harassed or illegally evicted

Your local council can investigate if you complain about harassment or illegal eviction. They can tell your landlord to stop harassing you. They also have the power to tell them to stop the illegal eviction. If your landlord ignores their advice they can be taken to court.

Find out about the steps your landlord should take to legally evict you. If your landlord hasn’t followed the correct steps get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

Read more out more about harassment and illegal eviction in the GOV.UK guidance.

If you complain about your landlord being dishonest or unfair

You should ask for your problem to be looked at by the Trading Standards team at the council who deal with all complaints about dishonest and unfair trading.

Your landlord can be given a warning or fine if they’ve broken the law by acting dishonestly or unfairly.

Acting dishonestly or unfairly could mean not telling you the property has damp or about their charges for example.

Complain by writing a letter. Explain your problem and the steps you’ve taken to try to solve it with your landlord. Include a copy of the letter you sent to your  landlord.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help making a complaint.

If you still can’t get your problem fixed

If your landlord still doesn’t sort out your problem after you’ve tried all the steps or if the council can’t help, you might be able to take court action. Taking court action is expensive, make sure it’s the right option for you.

You might take court action, for example if:

Get advice from your nearest Citizens Advice before taking court action. An adviser can help you look at all your options for dealing with your problem. They can also tell you if you might be able to get help with legal costs.

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