In today's tougher economic times, more and more people are turning to renting to satisfy their housing requirements. The ability to leave and move on with little commitment, the freedom to choose which area of town to live in, and the fact that most landlords will pay for repairs to the property and supplied appliances really do make it a preferable living arrangement for young and old alike.
However, with this 'renting boom', the market is now awash with landlords, eager to fill homes and rooms as quickly as possible. With this has come the ability to find a room within days, but it has also brought about the very worst in a minority of property letters, with many landlords failing severely in their obligations to tenants. Whether it's blocked drainage, plumbing or noisy neighbours upstairs, landlords are there to manage the property so that the tenant doesn't have to, and often this just doesn't work. The good news, however, is that there are steps that a tenant can take, either to ensure that the landlord is forced to comply with legislation, or to facilitate the cutting of losses and moving into alernative accommodation when all else fails.
What To Do When A Landlord Issue Has Arisen
Before following any of the below advice, it's worth double-checking: do you have an estate agent, or just a private landlord
? If you have an estate agent, then it's worth keeping in touch with them throughout the below process as they may be able to step in and help.
The first thing to remember is that all contact must be recorded; either in writing or physically recorded. If recording phone calls, it is a legal requirement to let the landlord know that you are doing so. However, this does have a dual purpose; knowing the call is recorded can often spur them into doing something if they know they are in the wrong.
Secondly, obtain evidence. If there is a leak, take time stamped photos of the leak and the damage it has caused. If it is a noisy tenant upstairs, record the noise they are making. This means that your claims will not be as easily dismissed as hearsay.
One of the most forgotten considerations is the manner in which people conduct themselves during such an issue. Very often, courts will rule in the landlord's favour, or deny the claimant all or part of their claim as the landlord will attempt to create a bad character reference with claims of abusive or threatening language. Remain courteous, be diplomatic and the landlord will often take the complaints seriously and reciprocate.
The next step is to be realistic with expectations but maintain a point that will not be crossed. For instance, is it really acceptable to expect a landlord to replace a bathroom within 48 hours? Similarly, if the boiler breaks down, leaving the tenants with no heating or hot water, it would not be acceptable to wait three weeks for a repair. Managing expectations will mean that the tenant and landlord are likely to meet an arrangement that satisfies them both. The other benefit of this is that the tenant can show a clear breach of reasonable deadlines if and when the landlord fails to remedy problems in a timely manner.
Lastly, if the landlord fails in their commitments and continually does so, knowing which legal steps to take will ensure that the tenant can recoup any losses or successfully sue for damages. Armed with the aforementioned evidence, a clear trail of dates for completion and evidence of failure by the landlord, organisations may be able to help. For students, nearly every student union will have a representative that can help with tenancy related issues, and will advise correctly on how to escalate the case to court or solicitors as necessary. If other tenants are in the same situation, it is worth considering launching several cases together; it adds weight to the claims of each individual and spreads the outright cost of lodging the claim.
If you're really stuck for help in these situations, the best thing to do is contact your student union
. They will have people specifically trained to help with these situations, and will often be able to guide you through the process. Plus, when it's time to move out, they can almost certainly recommend you a much better landlord!
Don't forget you can avoid issues of tricky landlords if you opt for privately-owned postgraduate accommodation like the flats provided by Fresh
. Fresh provides privately managed purpose-built student accommodation – which is a great alternative to university halls and private housing. Fresh Student Living has accommodation options in Bangor, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Chester, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ipswich, Kingston, Liverpool, London, Loughborough, Reading, Sheffield, Wolverhampton and York.