Most owners are responsible and want to make sure their renters enjoy the time they spend at their property because it’s in their interests to have happy, responsible renters who want to stay at the property as long as possible. Despite this, a few rogue owners continue to cause problems for a minority of renters. Don’t let it be you! The first step in protecting yourself against bad landlords, is finding out as much as possible before you move into a property and are bound by a contract. As a renter you have the rights to:
• Live in a property that is safe and in good condition
• Get respect for your privacy and peace (the landlord can not call on you excessively, unnecessarily and without notice)
• Know who your landlord is (if you don’t know who your landlord is, ask the person or company you pay rent to, in writing. If they don’t give you this information within 21 days, your landlord may be fined)
• Challenge excessive charges
• Have your deposit returned when your rental agreement ends
• Be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent
• See the properties EPC (energy performance certificate) and the gas safety certificate (which should have been performed by a Gas Safe registered engineer)
What to look at before you sign
• Read the rental agreement very carefully and check you’re happy with it before you sign anything.
• Meet them at the property and talk for as long as you can in order to get to know them a little bit. You could ask: What is the process if something needs fixing at the property?
• What is their definition of “general wear and tear?”, you shouldn’t be charged out of your deposit for this when you move out.
• Do they have a good relationship with their other renters?
• How long have they owned and rented the property for?
• Check that your deposit will be held by a Government backed deposit holding scheme.
• Get anything promised to be done in the property before you move in (cleaning carpets, replacing anything) in writing so if it doesn’t get done, you have proof the of the owners promise.
These questions will give you an idea of how experienced your potential owner is, what kind of relationship they have with their current renters, if their boundaries are reasonable and what their response would be like if something needed doing at the house.
When you move into the property
When your owner promises to do something for you at the house over the phone, confirm by e-mail so you have it in writing. You can say
“Hi there, just to follow up our conversation about the (issue at hand), you said that you could fix the problem by (date) at the time of (time), is that all correct?”
If you think you’re being treated in an unacceptable way, try and arrange a face-to-face meeting with the owner of the property. Be polite and explain what your worries are and try to come to a solution together. If you’re a good tenant, the owner should want to keep you at the property and hope to resolve your issues if they’re reasonable.
These are 6 steps you can go through to try and resolve any issues
1) Write or e-mail to let the owner know that repairs are needed, if it’s not an emergency then give them a reasonable amount of time to respond by. The property owner is responsible for all the repairs at the property if they have been told about them.
2) If you don’t hear anything back, contact the owner again and politely let him know this is the second time you’re contacting him.
3) There are things you can add to your e-mails/letters. Providing photos of the evidence of what the problem is. Copies of e-mails or letters you sent. Receipts of things you’ve had to pay for due to problems at the house such as pest control services, new clothes/furniture that has been damaged. You may need a doctor’s note if the problem has caused you any illness (worse Asthma if there is mould present at the property).
4) If a long period has gone by without the owner making contact with you to resolve the issue, you can ask the council to come over and check if the property is safe to live in. Let the property owner know if you’re contacting the council. Remember, if you always keep things polite and professional, you’re more likely to get your issues solved! 5) You may be able to ask for a discount in your rent if the work being done to your home has been very disruptive.
6) If none of the above works you may need to take legal action to get the courts to order the property owner to carry out repairs or give you some money back. You can call the Community Legal Advice helpline provided by Shelter on 0845 345 4 345.
7) At all times remain polite, helpful and courteous. Don’t lose your temper or resort to extreme action. It’s important that you don’t do anything that would break the terms of your contract or give the owner or agent an excuse to attempt to evict you from the property.
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