Landlords don’t have a particularly fantastic reputation, let’s face it, and student landlords even less so. There are some landlords out there who just want to provide you with a great property to live in, in return for a fair rent. And then there are others could just want the money and don’t care about anything else. Although you can’t always avoid the ‘bad’ landlords, it’s a good idea to go in with your eyes open so here are three of the most common issues with student landlords and how you can deal with them:
Landlords who won’t do repairs. This is a common problem for all tenants. Your landlord is obliged to keep the property in a decent state of repair, free from hazards and water tight. Your tenancy agreement will also usually require that the boiler is maintained and kept functioning by the landlord too.
What to do: start with a dated, signed letter that sets out what the issue is, how long it has been going on and what you want done about it, and when. You can highlight where your landlord is in breach of your tenancy agreement and if there is something that might be causing a health hazard. Citizens Advice, the Student Union and your local Environmental Health Department are all useful for information, advice and action.
What not to do: stop paying rent. If you do this then you are in breach of your tenancy agreement and can be evicted (although note: from 01/10/15 it is now against the law for landlords to carry out a ‘revenge eviction’ which is where they are removing a tenant because that tenant has complained about something like disrepair).
Landlords who think they live with you. When you rent a property from a landlord under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy you are paying for exclusive possession. This means that, as long as you’re not breaching the terms of the contract and you’re paying your rent, you temporarily ‘own’ the space. As a result, the landlord – or the agent or anyone they employ, including people doing repairs – must give you 24 hours notice before coming into the property and must get your consent to do so. You can refuse as long as you suggest a more convenient time if it’s for something that the tenancy requires, such as repairs or maintenance.
What to do: if your landlord/agent/landlord’s handyman is constantly walking in then remind them in a polite email that they need to give you 24 hours notice at all times. If they just carry on try another email stating that they are trespassing if they enter without consent and also risk committing the crime of harassment, as well as breaching the quiet enjoyment right allowed to you by law. If it gets really bad, call the police.
What not to do: scream at the landlord every time they come in or never let them in at all.
Landlords who want to keep your deposit. The most common problem of all for students is mean landlords who don’t spend any money getting the property ready for the move in date and then try and keep your entire deposit on the basis of fanciful claims for breakages. Many will often try to justify keeping the deposit for ‘re-decoration’ or something along those lines. Your deposit is to pay for damage only, to compensate the landlord for any loss they have suffered as a result of you living there. It is not for general wear and tear or for decoration (see Deposits section for more information).
What to do: if your landlord suggests deductions you don’t agree with, put in writing your suggested deductions (or just state you don’t agree with any of them if that’s the case). Raise a dispute with the protection scheme that holds your deposit and the landlord will then have to prove the right to make the deductions.
What not do to: trash the property because you’re probably not going to get your deposits back anyway. If you do more damage than the value of the deposit then the landlord can take you to court for the rest.