A number of common problems can arise when you’re renting as a student and it’s not always easy to know where to turn. However, there are plenty of resources that you can use if you’re having issues with your student houses, you just need to know where to look.
Problems with a landlord
First, speak to your landlord and try to resolve the situation. If nothing is done then put your complaint in writing, setting out clearly what has happened, and when, and then date and sign the letter and keep a copy – this will give you something official(ish) to record what has been happening. Depending on what the problem is, there are a number of different organisations that can help:
- Harassment/landlord continually letting themselves in without notice – call the police.
- Potential problems with gas or electrical safety – make a complaint to the Health and Safety Executive.
- Hazards such as structural problems or damp – contact the local Environmental Health Department.
- Problems with overcrowding or lack of facilities in an HMO – contact the local Environmental Health Department.
- An illegal eviction – call the police or if not an emergency, an organisation like Shelter.
- General issues – speak to a welfare officer at the Student Union for some advice.
Problems with a letting agent
Most letting agents have complaints procedures and that is always the first place to start. As above, put something in writing and keep a copy so that you can start to build up a record of what has happening and is happening now.
- Poor property management – contact the landlord directly. The landlord is paying the agent for a service and if that service isn’t being provided they will want to know. You have a legal right to the landlord’s address and it should be in the tenancy.
- Unprofessional behaviour – take a look at the agent’s website and see which professional bodies they are a member of. Start a complaint with one of those bodies. They may be able to take action against the agent or order compensation.
- Illegal activity – call the police. If the agent is letting themselves in, has taken something of yours or is threatening or harassing you then make an official complaint.
Problems with your housemates
We all annoy each other to a certain extent but there are some behaviours that are just totally unacceptable in a shared house and you need to take action over.
- Bad habits – sometimes people aren’t aware of their own bad habits. If you have an antisocial housemate it’s a good idea to just sit them down and ask them to stop.
- Criminal behaviour – if your housemate is stealing your possessions, taking drugs, hurting people or doing anything that’s illegal rather than simply annoying then speak to the police. Be wary of doing this without proof or a good cause. It’s sometimes a good idea to start by speaking to someone at the Student’s Union for advice.
- Lost causes – if you really don’t want to live with someone anymore then you could consider asking the landlord if you can leave. In most cases landlords will agree if you find a replacement for your room. If your other housemates feel the same then speak to the landlord about replacing the nuisance tenant – remember that if he or she is doing something that breaches the tenancy agreement and causes the landlord damage then you could be liable for that cost so sometimes it’s better not to go telling the landlord everything. Instead, suggest renewing the tenancy without the problem tenant when the time comes.
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