Some landlords are very pleasant and others are difficult and fail to treat tenants with respect. You need to understand your rights as a tenant and how to exercise them in case your landlord is one of the poor ones.
When a problem occurs in your rented home you must notify the landlord about the problem. Even if you notify the landlord verbally, you should confirm this in writing, either by email or in a letter. Keep a copy and make sure it is dated.
If the landlord fails to carry out repairs it is important to ensure that formal reminders are sent. Keep reminding the landlord if repairs have not been made. If there is a continued failure to undertake repairs, seek external assistance. Agencies that can provide assistance include a local Citizens Advice Bureau, Shelter advice centre, your student union office and the housing office of the local council. Some cities may have other agencies that can provide similar support.
Where the work is needed as a matter of urgency, for health and safety reasons, the local council has the emergency power to do the work on your behalf and bill the landlord, if the landlord fails to do the work or cannot be contacted. This will only apply in extreme circumstances, where, for instance, a toilet is blocked, or the property is in a dangerous condition.
Visits by landlords
Landlords are allowed to visit the property and inspect its condition. But they are required to give one day's notice of their intention to do so and specify a reasonable time of day. Tenants are not permitted to unreasonably refuse access to landlords. Landlords may, exceptionally, be permitted to enter their property without giving due notice, where they need access to make emergency repairs.
Tenants may, unusually, be subject to harassment from a landlord. Harassment is illegal, though there may be differences of opinion about what constitutes harassment.
A landlord is not permitted to use undue pressure on a tenant to persuade them to leave before the end of the tenancy. However, landlords do have legal rights to evict tenants in breach of their tenancy agreement (for example, where there do not pay their rent). But they will have to go to court in order to evict a tenant.
Sexual harassment can also be a problem. Where a tenant feels sexually harassed by a landlord (or fellow tenant) it is important that the person who feels harassed makes clear they are unhappy with the situation and do not reciprocate any expressed (or implied) emotional feelings.
Where harassment – of any kind – continues, external support can be sought. However, it would be unwise to seek outside assistance without first expressing unhappiness about the situation with the person alleged to be carrying out the harassment.
Neighbours can be just as big a problem as flatmates: sometimes worse.
It is generally a good idea to go round and meet the neighbours when you move in (or before). If they know you they are more likely to accept you. They are also less likely to complain to the police about you if you have a loud party.
Remember that different types of people have different types of habits. Mutual tolerance goes a long way to preventing problems from becoming serious.
If your neighbour is a refuse collector who gets up every day at 4am, he won't like you waking him up every night at 2am or 3am in the morning, when you come home from a bar. And if you have an exam one day, you won't like him waking you up at 4.30am when he leaves for work.
The problems can be similar if your next door neighbours have young children. A baby woken in the middle of the night by you coming in late may not go back to sleep quickly and may keep the parents up for several hours. They will be very unhappy.
Common causes of problems with neighbours include:
- Late nights
- Street parties
- Rubbish – in the garden, on the pavement, in back alleys
- Wheely bins not being put away
- Cars blocking driveways
- Friends calling at the wrong houses
Some information contained herein may have changed since it was first published. PrimeLocation strongly advises you to seek current legal and/or financial advise from a qualified professional.