In the UK, there are some legitimate reasons for a tenant to sue their landlord but at the same time, this can not be overused.
To make sure that you, as a tenant, are suing your landlord in the right way if you live in the UK, read this article in its entirety and make sure you’re able to bring this up in court in the right way.
Even if you are able to sue your landlord, being able to communicate this in the right way so legal action is able to take place is a vital part of the knowledge you must acquire in order to do things legitimately.
So, most importantly, be sure you read on to find out all the things you can sue your landlord for and then the steps you must follow to get the outcome you need.
A building in structural disrepair
First of all, if a building needs work on its structure, this is one of the biggest reasons for the landlord being liable in court which means the tenant is able to sue.
This is because all tenants have the right to a safe home. On top of this, under section 11, landlords have the responsibility to conduct structural repairs and damages so the tenant doesn’t have to do this themself.
Pain or suffering
Emotional distress or pain or suffering is a big reason that a tenant may legitimately sue their landlord. As they rent a property, a tenant has the right to stay in a quiet home without disturbance. This is known as a tenant having quiet enjoyment.
Therefore, if a tenant undergoes any pain or suffering as a result of this disturbance, this should be seen as a violation of your tenant rights.
While safety hazards is a separate issue that tenants can sue a landlord for, in the same way, if there is pain and suffering caused as a result of the property being unsafe, this is also another reason for a tenant to sue a landlord.
If this pain or suffering is caused by a neighbour then it may be worth bringing this up with a landlord as they may be able to do something about this such as report them or evict the neighbour with your help as evidence.
Nonetheless, neighbours are not the responsibility of the landlord if they aren’t signed with a tenancy with the landlord of the abused tenant and we therefore recommend you read our article on how to deal with intimidating neighbours.
Problems that prevent you from eating
As a landlord supplies a property, they will have to provide means to cook food with it. This includes the bare minimum of a cooker that is gas or electric powered.
Also, if a tenant has been promised any other equipment in their tenancy agreement and it isn’t supplied, this could be taken up in court too. Tenants should have the right equipment they agreed to throughout their tenancy.
On top of this, landlord do not have the right to evict a tenant without the right notice if they complain about their living standards
Working boilers and piping throughout the building is mandatory for landlords to provide. Because of the climate in the UK, there are no laws that state there has to be air conditioning in any property.
However, extreme heat is an issue that can be brought up to a landlord, especially if there are vulnerable tenants in the property such as those who are elderly or if a landlord has young children.
Under legislation, a landlord has “reasonable” time to fix a boiler which usually is 1-2 working days. This means if there is a boiler break on the weekend on friday and the boiler doesn’t get repaired till tuesday, the landlord cannot be sued.
In order to sue a landlord in general, you have to prove that their end of the tenancy agreement wasn’t upheld including any safety regulations and laws that apply to landlords when they sign an AST, a crucial part of tenant management.
Exposure to harmful chemicals
Chemicals such as asbestos are common in older buildings that were built at a time when there weren’t as many regulations. As a result, tenants have the right to a liveable home and shouldn’t accept things like this on their property.
As well as this, if there is any harm done to a tenant because of these chemicals, the tenant would have a strong case to bring a landlord to court and sue them for negligence.
However, if it is clear that the landlord wasn’t aware of any asbestos in the property and the tenant conducted repairs that uncovered these chemicals for example, then this would be a different case.
Only the obvious knowledge of asbestos exposure and the failure to treat it will allow the tenant to sue. If the asbestos recently gets uncovered, then it would be in the best interest of the landlord and tenant to get this fixed as soon as possible.
Problems that prevent you from washing
Like cooking and other amenities that are a part of everyday living, if the washing facilities in a property become faulty, not working or the landlord fails to provide them, this is a reasonable cause to sue.
If there is no laundry equipment in a premises, this must be clearly stated in a tenancy agreement and the tenant should agree to this so they can arrange to have their washing done elsewhere.
On the other hand, like cooking equipment, if laundry equipment is promised in a tenancy agreement, this must be given to the tenant throughout their tenancy.
If a landlord fails to comply with basic things like this, the tenant may have reasonable grounds to refuse eviction from a property on top of having the right to sue.
Like all buildings, there is a basic level of safety that must be adhered to whether that concerns electrical safety, gas safety or general hazards.
There are mandatory tests that must be carried out at regular intervals in order to ensure the safety of a building. For example, a CP12 must be conducted every year in order to legally rent out a property.
If regulations like this aren’t kept up to standard, then a tenant would have the right to bring a landlord to court and sue them for poor gas safety. At any time, a landlord should be able to produce a certificate if requested to a tenant.
What are the things I cannot sue my landlord for?
Before you’re quick to point the finger and bring your landlord to court, also understand what your landlord isn’t responsible for so you’re able to prosecute them efficiently if the law allows you to while understanding your tenant rights.
Below are some of the most common reasons tenants think they’re able to sue their landlord for but in fact they cannot.
Damage caused by your own behaviour
While this may seem obvious, it is important to understand what “your own behaviour” actually represents.
For example, if you were irresponsible in a property, even if the damage you caused was due to a building not being constructed property, this is something you cannot sue a landlord for.
For instance, if you smashed a mirror after it fell from a wall but the mirror won’t sacred property onto the wall, this is still your fault as a tenant.
Likewise, if there were faulty appliances in a property but you, as a tenant, were the one to use the appliance unnecessarily and therefore break it (even though it was already on its way out, this is something you’d have trouble being a tenant for.
Sometimes it can be hard to tell when appliances like this break which is why it’s vital an accurate property inventory checklist is taken before and after the tenancy agreement.
External property damage
While it may seem like any hazard associated with a property must be the fault of a landlord, tenants must also be reasonable as to what is inside of a landlord’s control or not. This includes those done by natural hazards like floods.
Also, a landlord may not be responsible for any damage caused by members of the public to property or neighbours. Read our guide on what to do about intimidating neighbours if you’re not sure about this.
Disruption due to wayleave
While wayleave agreements may seem unfair, if you move into a property with a wayleave in place, this is something you’d just have to deal with and wayleave doesn’t violate a tenant’s right to a quiet home.
However, if you live in a property where there is a longer term agreement in place like rent to rent then you won’t have to worry about this.
What are the steps to take to sue your landlord?
Perhaps the biggest hurdle in taking the landlord to court in order to sue them is getting hold of them in order to make them aware. This is because anyone who is asked to go to court must be given an N215 notice which informs them they have been given a court order.
After the fact, this is where a tenant can begin the legal process of suing their landlord and it begins with preparing any evidence to bring to court.
Prepare any evidence
The first step to any court case is collecting evidence and if you are in the private rented sector this is even harder. This may include photographic evidence or video evidence for it to be best. There are also other forms of evidence such as word of mouth and evidence about the landlord based on audio only.
Issue your landlord with a court order
Issuing a landlord with a court order in this step is where things start to take shape in the legal process. Before doing so, make a note of everyone involved in the lawsuit including the letting agent if necessary.
Then, you can begin issuing the court order to the right number of people. It is important you follow this step so the court can decide on a date and everyone involved is made aware of exactly the case and when they are expected to attend court.
Attend the court date
This is where you will defend yourself in court. It is optional for a tenant to bring a solicitor with them on the day of the hearing. The same will go for the landlord who will also attend court in an attempt to defend their case.
What should you know before you sue a landlord?
Suing a landlord can be a troublesome and time consuming process. Even if you are in the right as a tenant and a landlord is eligible to be sued. As a result, it is useful to consider the options below before you sue.
These options include being aware of your court expenses and how much you’ll actually receive in compensation. Also, being aware of the law and what breaches of a tenancy are more important than others helps.
Once informed, you, as a tenant should be able to assess whether suing your landlord is worth it as it is certainly not appropriate to take every dispute to court without considering other avenues of resolution.
Refer to the fitness for human habitation act
Under this act, much like the laws in the Landlord and tenant act, certain rights and responsibilities have to be respected by a landlord.
The fitness for human habitation act specifically mentions that the condition of a property has to be maintained throughout the tenancy.
So, if you’re not sure if you’re eligible to sue your landlord as they may or may not be in breach of this act, you can read more about it on the government’s website here.
Use the alternative dispute resolution
Alternative dispute methods include those that are not involving legal proceedings but instead may be set up by the local council with the help of some trained professionals to bring small disputes to a close.
In order to find out the most suitable solution for you, visit the government website here where you can choose from a range of regulators to help you depending on how big your claim is.
These include OFGEM, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA ) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) seen here which all have options to open a dispute on their website.
How much should you be able to claim?
As a tenant, there is a good chance that even if your dispute wins in court you won’t be able to win that much money if the judges decide things are in your favour.
In fact, you may have to pay court fees for a result in court that isn’t at all that financially beneficial. This means there is a chance you’ll need to .
All in all, to answer the question of if you can sue your landlord as a tenant, the answer is yes, in certain circumstances. Nonetheless, the situation is very important as it may not be worth pursuing a court case.
In addition, double check that the issue or dispute you have with a landlord is one in which they are clearly breaking their tenancy agreement. Only these types of cases hold weight in the justice system.
If you’re not sure, consult a solicitor or familiarise yourself with the how to rent guide that would have been delivered to you in the beginning of your tenancy.
Are you wondering which question you should ask when renting? We got you covered!