You can ask your private landlord to pay you compensation if disrepair caused damage to your belongings or made your health problems worse.
What you can claim compensation for
If repair problems in your home have made you or someone else there ill or have damaged your belongings, you can make a claim for compensation.
You can also claim compensation if you've suffered inconvenience or have not been able to use your home in the normal way due to disrepair.
You can start a claim even if your tenancy has ended.
Get legal advice about housing disrepair claims
If your landlord won't do repairs, get legal advice about making a housing disrepair claim in court.
You will have to pay fees to take your landlord to court. You may be able to get legal aid to help you but only if you are claim benefits or have a low income and:
- you are asking the court to order your landlord to do the repairs and there is a serious risk to the health or safety of you or your family
- it is part of your defence to a court action brought by your landlord to evict you because of rent arrears
If you can't get legal aid ask a solicitor about a conditional fee arrangement. This can mean you don't pay a fee if you lose your case.
Gather evidence for a court case
Collect as much evidence as possible before the court case. This could be damaged items you have kept or photos of damage to your home.
The court will usually want to see reports from an expert such as a doctor or environmental health.
If you want to claim for damage to your belongings, take photographs and keep receipts to prove you had to replace things. If possible, keep the original receipts for damaged items. This helps to prove how much they're worth.
Keep letters to and from your landlord to show the court when you complained and what action was taken.
If you are claiming compensation for health problems, you must be able to prove to the court that disrepair made the problem worse. For example, if your child's asthma was made worse by damp problems that your landlord wouldn't fix. Ask your doctor for copies of medical records or notes about visits to your home.
Report the problem to the council's environmental health department and ask for a copy of their report. You might have to pay a fee for this.
Tell the landlord about court action
There is a special procedure which must be followed in all disrepair cases.
You must serve a 'letter before action' on your landlord. The letter must:
- explain what the disrepair problem is
- set out details of when you told the landlord about the problem
- give the landlord 20 working days to put the problem right – unless the repair is urgent
- state that if the landlord doesn't put the problem right within that time, you intend to take them to court
After 20 working days have passed, you can apply to the county court to claim compensation if your landlord hasn't started repair work.
Take your case to court
Send two copies of your claim form to the court where you want to start court action. Keep a copy for yourself.
Housing disrepair cases can be dealt with under the small claims procedure. This means if you lose you don't have to pay all your landlord's costs. The small claims procedure makes the court process simpler to use.
Your case will usually be dealt with under small claims if you want to ask a court to order your landlord to:
- do repairs that cost under £1000 and pay you compensation of no more than £1000
- only pay you compensation of up to £10,000
Get advice if you need help taking your case to court. Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.
Claim compensation for household items
You can claim compensation for household items that have been damaged or destroyed because of your landlord's failure to carry out repairs, for example clothing and bedding damaged by mould or carpets and furniture damaged by water leaks.
You can also claim compensation for items damaged or broken while repair work was being carried out.
You can claim the amount of money it costs you to replace the property that was damaged or destroyed. This may only be the second-hand value of the goods, unless it would not be possible or reasonable to buy second-hand replacements.
Claim for damage to health
You can claim compensation if you or anyone in your household has been injured or made ill (or more ill) as a result of the landlord's failure to carry out repairs. The health problems may be physical or mental.
The amount of damages you can claim depends on how ill you were and how long it lasted. For example, if you've been unable to work as a result, you may be able to claim for loss of earnings and for any extra care you've needed.
Claim for inconvenience caused by disrepair
You can claim compensation if you've suffered inconvenience or have not been able to use your home in the normal way as a result of the landlord's failure to repair your home.
How much compensation the court awards depends on the level of disrepair, the rent you pay and the disrepair's effect on you.
Reduction or rebate of rent claims
You can claim a reduction or refund of rent if you haven't been able to use your home or part of it because of the disrepair.
The amount you can claim depends on how much of your home can't be lived in. If no part of the house can be used, the court may order that 100% of your rent is reduced or refunded. If only part of the house is unusable then the rent is reduced proportionally.
Threat of eviction over court action
Some landlords prefer to evict tenants rather than do repair work.
Get advice if you think your landlord could evict you if you ask for repairs or if your landlord has threatened to evict you or has harassed you.
Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.
If your private rented tenancy started or was renewed on or after October 1st 2015, you have extra protection from revenge eviction.