How to take your landlord to court: Find out what you can sue them for and the potential risks

By Charlie Sawyer

Published Oct 5, 2023 at 09:00 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

I think it’s a universally accepted truth that landlords are quite literally the worst people ever. From leaky sinks and mould infestations to deposit dramas and sassy emails, it’s pretty customary to deal with at least one or two shitty landlords in your life. If you’ve ever found yourself in a tussle with one of these highly unreliable and often misogynistic douches, it can sometimes be pretty confusing figuring out how to take them down or get your money back. But don’t stress, I’m going to walk you through the whole thing.

Welcome back to Explained By a Blonde, a SCREENSHOT series where I, your resident blonde, take difficult or hard-to-understand topics and magically transform them into bite-sized nuggets of knowledge. This week, we’re tackling landlords. Renting is a hard enough process as it is, so us babes need to help each other out.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never actually been told what my rental rights are and it’s all well and good complaining to your friends about your flat woes, but can you actually sue your landlord? And if you can, what’s the likelihood of you winning anything?

There are a couple of different reasons why you could try and take your landlord to court, so let’s dive in dolls.

What can I sue my landlord for?

The main two things you can sue your landlord for are: unjustifiably withholding your deposit and/or refusing or failing to follow up on necessary repairs within the property.

What do I do if my landlord refuses to give me back my deposit?

If your landlord is refusing to return your deposit, there are a few things you can do. First off, you can try and settle the issue outside of court. If you end up deciding to make a claim, there could be some legal fees, so if possible, I’d attempt a schmooze session—threatening to take them to court might be the push they need to give you back your money.

If that fails, you’re going to want to head to a website such as Tenant Angels or Citizens Advice. They’re both super easy-to-use platforms that allow you to find out whether or not you’re eligible to make a claim.

You could snatch up to three times the amount of your deposit, if your landlord didn’t do one or any of these things:

What do I do if my landlord won’t pay for damages or make necessary repairs?

You can also make a small claim if you asked your landlord to repair something and they failed to do so. You’re going to need to gather as much evidence as possible. That means taking lots of pictures and holding onto any correspondence with your landlord regarding your request that the damages be fixed and paid for.

If you present your case clearly, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll win. If the judge rules in your favour, you should hopefully be fully compensated for any costs you may have had to front to fix any damages.

Are there any risks when suing your landlord?

There are some things to keep in mind if you do decide to go ahead and sue your landlord. First off, you might need to hire a solicitor to represent you in court. This could lead to pretty substantial legal fees. However, there is such a thing as legal aid, and so I’d recommend looking into whether or not you could qualify for schemes which will cover any legal costs. The cost of living crisis is no joke, so checking your financial options before heading into a legal battle is a must.

Word of advice: if at all possible, I would try to wait until your tenancy ends before pursuing this avenue. You know, just to avoid any awks moments. I’d also try to resist drunk texting your landlord some pretty dicey words after a vodka-induced rage. While I would never judge, it probably isn’t the best shout. Of course, if you’re facing serious internal or external damages that your landlord is refusing to fix, definitely take action. We have to stand up for ourselves.

Hope this has been helpful huns. Just remember, a glass of wine makes everything better—if you have access to Aperol, even better.

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