This article was written by the Great British Mag editorial team on 13 Nov, 2020.
If you have chosen to rent a house or flat, instead of taking university run accommodation, and something goes wrong with the property or you are having problems with the landlord, don’t worry you can get help.
In this article we will help you understand what your landlord can and cannot do, what your rights are and how to get help.
What is a landlord?
Your landlord might be an individual who owns the property that you have rented or it might be a company that manage lots of properties and you will have signed a contract with them, therefore they are your landlord.
What your landlord cannot do
- Keep your deposit. In the UK landlords must pay your deposit into a third-party, government approved, holding account within 30 days of you paying the deposit. At the time of signing your agreement your landlord must tell you which scheme they will use and you can check it has been done by visiting the website and entering the name that appears on the tenancy agreement and the address.
- Leave the property in disrepair. Landlords must keep the internal and external parts of the property in a good condition. Read our article on what to do if your landlord will not repair the property to find out exactly what repairs your landlord is responsible for.
- Enter the property without your permission and remove any of your possessions
- Evict you without giving you notice and following all legal requirements
- Raise your rent during the tenancy agreement
- Ask you to arrange and pay for repairs
- Refuse to pay back your deposit if you have not caused any damage to the property.
How to resolve a dispute with your landlord
Step 1: Review your tenancy agreement
The starting point is to review your tenancy agreement to understand your responsibilities and those of your landlords.
If you need help with understanding the tenancy agreement make an appointment with the Students Union, the student welfare team at your university or contact Citizens Advice – which is a free service that will give you advice and support online, over the phone and in person.
Step 2: Speak to you landlord
Once you know your rights speak to or email your landlord and try to resolve the problem amicably. If you come to an agreement, then ask them to put it into writing. This will help you if they fail to honour what has been agreed.
Step 3: Make a formal complaint to the council
If you have tried to resolve the matter with your landlord but that has not worked you can make a formal complaint to the local authority. Finding the right department can be complicated so get some help from your university or Citizens Advice.
Broadly speaking you can complain about:
- Necessary repairs not being done to the property to ensure it is safe and habitable
- Your landlord is trying to evict you illegally
- Your landlord is entering the property without your permission
- The landlord is refusing to return your deposit, if no damage has been done to the property.
Step 4: Take legal action
You can take your landlord to court if they refuse to resolve property related issues, raise your rent during your tenancy agreement or refuse to pay back your deposit, and you haven’t damaged the property. However, this should be a last resort because it will cost you money and can take a long time.
You will need to prove that you have tried to resolve the issue directly with your landlord as well as have evidence of the problem you are taking your landlord to court about.
The evidence would include things like:
- Copies of letters or emails you sent to your landlord or local council
- Photographs of repairs needed on the property
- Receipts for items you have had to replace, for example furniture or carpets
- A copy of your tenancy agreement.
If you need help completing the form your university or the nearest Citizens Advice will be able to help you.