If you are a tenant, your landlord has certain obligations. The rules and procedures vary depending on the type of tenancy you have but certain basic rules are always the same.
Landlords may need access to the accommodation to inspect it and do repairs but they must let you live in your home without unnecessary interference. The landlord should give proper notice and arrange a suitable time if they need to visit. The amount of notice they have to give may be set out in your agreement. You can ask your landlord to stop entering your home without your permission. It may be classed as harassment if he/she persists.
If they want the tenant to leave most landlords will have to give a written notice and, if necessary, get a court order to evict tenants. If a landlord tries to force a tenant to leave without following the correct procedure it may be illegal and could lead to fines or imprisonment.
Landlords are responsible for repairs to the exterior or structure of a property. Problems with the roof, chimneys, walls, guttering and drains are the responsibility of the landlord. The landlord/agent cannot pass on responsibility for these legal obligations by putting clauses in your contract. For example, making you responsible for maintenance of drains or gas fires where central heating has been installed. Landlords are also responsible for keeping the equipment which supplies water, gas and electricity in safe working order. Check your agreement to see what it says.
Landlords have legal obligations to ensure the safety of tenants. They must:
Please see the safety information.
Landlords have to inform tenants when the rent is to be paid and they should tell you how they want it paid. They can't refuse to accept the rent from their tenants. If a landlord does so, the tenants should keep trying to pay it or keep the money separate (for example, in a separate bank account).
Rent can be increased but only at certain times during the tenancy and only in certain circumstances. These depend on the type of tenancy you have and what your agreement says about when the rent can be increased.
If the rent is paid weekly, private landlords have to provide a rent book.
All landlords have to give their tenants their name and a UK contact address. If the property is managed by a letting or property agent, they must also provide you with the landlord's full name and address. Normally this information should be written on your contract.
If you have not been given this information you should request it in writing. You should keep a copy of the letter and send it by recorded delivery so you have proof of postage. If you don't get a reply in writing within 21 days of them receiving your letter, the landlord is committing a criminal offence. You should be able to get your landlord's details from the Land Registry. You can do this online by filling in a form and paying a small fee of £4.
If you live with an owner you have fewer rights to repair, unless your licence is specific about what repairs the owner has agreed to cover. If your licence is not specific, but the disrepair is likely to endanger the health and safety of the household or members of the public, Environmental Health can request essential works are carried out. This could cover gas safety and damage to the structure of the building.
If there is something within your home which needs repairing consider the following points:
It is always best to follow this up in writing, even if you have already reported it over the phone. Send the letter by recorded delivery so that you have proof of postage and keep a copy for your records.
See our example letter for reporting repairs (PDF).
This may seem very formal but getting into the habit of doing this at an early stage should help you to avoid problems developing later on. This is especially important for repair issues since the landlord is only obliged to start remedial action within a reasonable time of being informed of the problem. If you have only been calling the landlord, they can try to deny that you contacted them until much later than you did. Beware of letting emotion cloud your judgement. Writing very angry letters or emails may make you feel better but they are almost always going to be unhelpful in finding a solution.
Do not be afraid to approach your landlord regarding problems with the property.
Always give the landlord/agent a reasonable timescale to work to. The following set of priorities represents what we consider to be good practice, but it is not an exhaustive list:
If you found your property on the Daily Vacancy List, the Recommended Code of Standards gives the minimum standards you should expect of your accommodation. Properties on the Daily Vacancy List should meet them. If your house is on the list but does not meet these standards, please notify the accommodation team in the Student Life Centre.
Ideally the landlord/agent should arrange a suitable time and date with you for the repair to take place. Access should not be given to workmen without your prior consent unless the repair is an emergency. Workmen should always secure the property when leaving and should clean up after they have finished. If you have any problems whilst work is being carried out raise them with the landlord/agent.
If problems persist visit the accommodation team in the Student Life Centre for advice. If you decide to pay for the repairs yourself and deduct the money from your rent you must warn the landlord in writing first, giving them an opportunity to fix the problem before you make your own arrangements. You must also ask at least three companies for written quotes and use the cheapest company, sending copies of the quotes to your landlord. The aim is to create a paper trail documenting all the opportunities the landlord was given to fix the problem. Photographs showing evidence of damage and receipts for repairs will be vital.
Houses with very serious faults can be investigated by the Environmental Health Office. They will look at your house and force the landlord to get the repairs done, if necessary.
If you wish to move out because of disrepair, you are strongly advised to seek advice first as you could still be liable for the rent.
If you have suffered financial loss, inconvenience or damage to your property because of disrepair, you may have a case to claim a rent rebate from the landlord/agent. Examples could be having to move out of your bedroom, losing the use of the lounge due to serious or extensive disrepair, loss of facilities such as a shower, bath or hot water.
Discuss the issue of a rent rebate with the landlord/agent first. You need to clearly state why you feel compensation is warranted, giving specific examples. If an agreement cannot be reached, you could deduct the money from your rent (although this is a breach of your contract in most cases). However, you must be aware that if the landlord/agent disagrees with your claim, they could take the money from your deposit, or take action in the small claims court to recover any shortfall in rent. Seek advice before taking the step of deducting rent.
See sample letters dealing with the initial enquiry and follow-up (PDF).
Condensation is caused when moisture meets a cold surface (such as a window) or a surface that gets little air (eg behind a wardrobe) and water droplets are formed. The water then seeps into windows and/or runs down the walls, which in turn can cause wallpaper/paint to peel and create mould patches. Every year some students have very serious problems with black mould growth on walls and round window frames. It can affect your health and ruin possessions. It is your responsibility to prevent it. This can be done by:
Most pest control companies charge for dealing with all pests (rats, cockroaches, mice, squirrels, wasps and bees, fleas, bedbugs, cockroaches, pharaoh ants and other insects). Mice can be attracted to a property because of overflowing bins and food scraps and fleas can be brought into the house if you have pets. If this is the case any charge incurred by the landlord/agent can be passed on to you.
To prevent pests keep the garden and bin areas clean and tidy. All rubbish should be carefully bagged and put in the rubbish bins provided. Environmental Health have the power to fine residents for untidy garden/bin areas.
Whilst you are paying rent for a house or flat which you do not share with the landlord, it is considered to be your home. The landlord cannot come into your home without your permission.
They are entitled to inspect the property every few months to check on the state of repair. The tenancy agreement may also oblige you to give them access for other reasons (eg to show a prospective tenant round if you are moving out).
Usually you can insist on being given 24 hours' notice of any visits and you can insist on knowing the reason for the visit (these conditions are normally stated in your contract).
If the landlord is not keeping to these basic rules, you should put your complaint in writing to them.
Unfortunately, if your neighbour has no connection with the landlord it is not the landlord's responsibility to deal with the problem.
You do not have the right to move out of the property because this would cause financial loss to the landlord. Since they are not the cause of the problem, the law does not accept that they should suffer any loss for the actions of a third party.
Unfortunately, your remedy is the same as that of anyone else. You will need to contact the local authority's environmental health or noise pollution team. They have a range of powers which include the confiscation of stereos and other noise making equipment.
If you have an assured shorthold tenancy all landlords must comply with the Protection from Eviction Act. Court action must be taken to remove you from the property. Under no circumstances can the locks be changed, access refused or your possessions removed. This would amount to an illegal eviction and you could sue for damages.
If the landlord/agent wants you to leave early you must look at the terms of your contract.
If you are in a resident landlord/family home property the landlord can give you 'reasonable' notice at any time. Please see the Contracts section for further information.
A tenancy doesn't just give you rights – it also brings responsibilities. It's important you stick to the rules and don't break any of the terms of your contract. Most tenants can be evicted (providing the correct procedure is followed) if they don't follow certain basic rules. These include:
Local residents care about the way their street looks – dilapidated properties have a knock-on effect on house prices. Furthermore, if your house is easily identifiable as a student house, it will be an easy target for burglars. There are simple ways to keep things neat and tidy:
A large number of students will live in private sector housing in the local community. We understand that it will be your first time living independently. Do try to fully integrate into your local community and for tips on how to do this please see below:
Other useful advice:
Please see the full guidance drawn up in partnership with Kingston Council on how to be a considerate neighbour in the community (PDF).