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Investigation

Housing tribunals: Is your landlord or letting agent on the list?

Head of data journalism Lesley-Anne Kelly has mapped out five years of data for repairing standards tribunals regarding Dundee properties reports.
Lesley-Anne Kelly
A residential building in Dundee in need of housing repairs with a data chart on the side of the building.
Image: Mhorvan Park / DC Thomson

Tenants across Dundee are living with properties in various states of disrepair.

What is the property tribunal?

The Housing and Property chamber of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service hears applications and adjudicates on issues on a range of housing issues in Dundee and across the country – from requests for repairs, to complaints about letting agents, to evictions and issues related to rent and contract terms.

Repairing standards hearings were significantly impacted by the pandemic with far fewer hearings being carried out during that period.

What are the repairing standards?

The repairing standards tribunal chamber hears applications from tenants and third parties (such as the local authority) to force landlords to repair their properties up to the legal standard. Tenants can bring claims under different parts of legislation but can generally expect their homes to be:

  • Wind and watertight
  • Have suitable water, gas and electricity installations and have those utilities be in proper working order
  • Have fixtures, fitting and appliances provided by the landlord to be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order
  • Have furnishings provided by the landlord be capable of being used for their intended purpose
  • To have satisfactory provisions for detecting fires
  • To have carbon monoxide detectors
  • To have the property meet the tolerable standard for habitation

The map below shows the location of properties in Dundee who applied to the tribunal between 2018 and 2022. Click on an icon for more information including the reasons behind the application and the landlords or lettings agent involved.

The data below represents potentially represents only the tip of the iceberg as many tenants will not feel able to take their landlords to the tribunal for a variety of reasons.

Andy Scullin, social policy coordinator at the Dundee Citizens Advice Bureau had this to say regarding tenants feelings on the process:

“When we examine this option with a client, few are keen to pursue it. Others are put off by the idea of engaging with a legal procedure, albeit a less formal one than a court.

“This could be because of the time it might make, but more commonly it will be because of the potential damage to the continuing relationship with their landlord, and the potential consequences to the tenant in terms of keeping a roof over their head.”

You can also use the table below to search for a landlord by name, or search by address or postcode.

Can letting agents be taken to tribunal?

Letting agencies take on the burden of managing properties for landlords – but they are also accountable to rules and regulations and to the property tribunal. Complaints regarding the middle men go to a different chamber of the tribunal called the Letting Agent chamber.

Letting agents must comply with the Letting Agent Code of Practice which was set out in 2016. The Housing and Property tribunal has the power to award compensation to applicants if they find that a letting agent has acted unreasonably or forced the applicant to incur unreasonable expenses due to their actions.

The table below shows all letting agency decisions published by the tribunal, regarding a property based in Dundee between the years of 2018 and 2022.

Andy from the CAB had the following to say regarding the Courier’s new tool: “Anything which arms a prospective tenant with information about a landlord or property is useful. Although it only covers cases where tenants have been brave enough to take their landlord to a tribunal, using the search engine will increase awareness of the types of issues tenants experience , and what properties to avoid. As with anything, wider research is key before signing a contract”.

Where can I get help on housing repairs in Dundee?

If you are struggling with a rental property in disrepair or having issues with your letting agent, you should contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or the housing charity Shelter. The private rental department of your local authority may also be able to help.

More information regarding the Housing and Property Tribunal, past decisions and how to apply for your case to be seen can be found on the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service website.

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