Categories
Property

How to complain about poor rented accommodation conditions

On my blog I cover most areas of consumer rights. However there are some topics where I ask a specialist to give expert advice.

I have asked Christian Weaver, barrister and author of The Law in 60 Seconds: A Pocket Guide to Your Rights* – to explain your rights when it comes to problems with renting. This is the fourth in the series. The first was

3 things you need to look for when signing a tenancy and the second What you are entitled to when moving into a rented property and the third What are your rights regarding tenancy deposits?

flowers in vases on window sill in front of closed windows looking out to garden grass

Basic tenancy rights

You have the right to live in a home that is ‘fit for human habitation’ (note –  this, strictly speaking, applies in relation to England only, While homes being fit for human habitation features in the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016, at the time of writing, this is not in force). A home will be deemed ‘unfit for human habitation’ if conditions are so bad that the home is unsuitable for you to live in while in that condition. Examples include fire safety issues, security issues (e.g. not having a lock on your front door), hygiene or sanitation issues (e.g. not having a working toilet), and infestations (e.g. cockroaches or mice).

Landlord’s responsibility

It is your landlord’s responsibility to carry out basic repairs. If the problem in your home is not quite one that makes it unfit to live in, then your best option may involve looking into the ‘Repairing obligations’ provisions from the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Regardless of what is in your tenancy agreement, your landlord has a general responsibility to ‘keep in repair’ the following:

  • the structure and exterior of your house; for example, the drains, gutters and external pipes
  • basins, sinks, baths and toilets
  • boilers, heaters and their associated pipes and wiring

If your landlord stated additional things in your tenancy agreement that they would do in terms of repair obligations, they must stick to these. Another reason to read the tenancy agreement carefully.

If issues like those detailed above arise in your house, you should tell your landlord as soon as possible. It is best to do this in writing (letter, email or text) and keep a copy as evidence. If you are particularly concerned, you may also wish to tell the local council, as it has legal powers it can use to get repairs done very quickly.

Once your landlord is aware of the problem, they have a duty to repair it within a reasonable amount of time. Exactly what the problem is and its severity will have a bearing on what will be classed as a reasonable amount of time.

What to do if your landlord doesn’t do the property repairs

If this does not happen, it can be a good idea to write to your landlord again, stating:

  • what the problem is
  • the history of your communication (i.e. when you reported it and what you were told – highlighting that this hasn’t happened)
  • the impact this is having, being sure to detail any inconvenience and potential implications for your health

Follow the Tips for complaining effectively

If all else fails, you may wish to consider legal action. In some circumstances, a court can order that your landlord pay you compensation and/or carry out the necessary repairs. Court should be a last resort: it can be much quicker to negotiate and come to an agreement with your landlord. Before going to court, it is a good idea to speak to your local Citizens Advice or a housing lawyer for advice.

About the author

Christian Weaver headshot

Christian is a barrister at a leading human rights chambers, where he regularly represents clients whose rights are at risk.

He previously worked at INQUEST and volunteered at Liberty and Nottingham Law School’s Legal Advice Clinic.

In 2018, concerned about the increasing number of people he knew being stopped and searched, he created the YouTube series ‘The Law in 60 Seconds’ to inform people of their rights and make the law accessible; those videos have now been viewed thousands of times, and been featured on BBC News, in the Guardian and the i Paper. The concept has since been turned into a book.

(AL)

Twitter: @ChristianKamali

Further help with complaining effectively

 

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

More tips, advice, template letters and all the details on consumer laws you need GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! too!

 

Note that did not cover lettings – you need Christian’s information see his book for that!

101 Habits if an Effective complainer book cover with logo

 

101 Habits of an Effective Complainer has been designed to improve the way you look at and make complaints. Each page gives you a complaining habit to consider and an example of how and why it empowers you to become more effective in getting the results you want.

 

 

 

 

Purchase downloadable templates to gain redress and use a ready made template to make your complaint. Just fill in your details.

 

 

Categories
Property

What are your rights regarding tenancy deposits?

On my blog I cover most areas of consumer rights. However there are some topics where I ask a specialist to give expert advice.

I have asked Christian Weaver, barrister and author of The Law in 60 Seconds: A Pocket Guide to Your Rights* – to explain your rights when it comes to problems with renting. This is the second in the series. See also:

3 things you need to look for when signing a tenancy

What you are entitled to when moving into a rented property

How to complain about poor rented accommodation conditions

Greay chair and sofas with grey and whitecushions

How the tenancy deposit is worked out

Let’s start with the basics. If your total annual rent is less than £50,000, the deposit cannot be more than 5 weeks’ rent. If the annual rent is £50,000 or more, the deposit cannot be more than 6 weeks’ rent.

You can calculate the maximum deposit amount with this calculation:

Your monthly rent × 12 ÷ 52 × 5* = maximum tenancy deposit

* or 6, depending on the annual rent, as explained above.

When you pay your landlord the deposit, they have 30 days to ‘protect’ it. Depending on which deposit protection scheme your landlord uses, this will involve either the money being taken from the landlord and held by the deposit protection scheme themselves, or your landlord keeping hold of the money but paying an insurance fee to the deposit protection scheme.

Your deposit being protected can give you some confidence that it isn’t funding your landlord’s ‘Tenerife with the kids’ summer getaway.

Your landlord should give you written confirmation of the deposit’s protection within 30 days. This guide from Shelter is pretty helpful on the matter. The Law in 60 Seconds: A Pocket Guide to your Rights, of course, covers it too.

What happens if the landlord fails to comply with the tenancy deposit rules

It is worth knowing that a landlord failing to follow the rules in relation to your deposit is taken very seriously. Even if you get your full deposit back, if you have the inclination, you could go to court and potentially obtain compensation of 1–3 times the amount of the deposit if your landlord, among other things:

  • failed to protect your deposit within 30 days of receiving it
  • failed to give you the written information about the property and your deposit within 30 days

Your rights if your landlord keeps part/all of the deposit

It is a good idea to gather as much evidence as you can, including proof you paid the deposit and any evidence you can find that the rules were not followed.

If, at the end of your tenancy, the landlord seeks to make deductions from your deposit, it’s important to note that they must tell you why they are doing so. Get them to put their reasons in writing, so that if you want to make a complaint, it is easier to do.

Get as much specific information as you can. For example, if they say they needed to repaint the wall, get them to send you a quote for the cost of having done this, so you know that the amount being taken out of your deposit is fair.

If they are trying to use the two small scuff marks you left on the bottom of the wall as the basis for redecorating the whole room and taking the cost of this out of your deposit, this is something you could challenge through the Alternative Dispute Resolution service provided by the deposit protection schemes. This article by Shelter touches on it. It’s also covered in The Law in 60 Seconds: A Pocket Guide to Your Rights.

The full guide to renting and your rights

Christian says “I hope this series of blog posts has been useful. I’ve quite enjoyed writing them. As I said at the start, the laws in relation to renting are really, really important. After all, the last thing you want is for where you sleep to become a nightmare (see what I did there).”

About the author

Christian Weaver headshot

Christian is a barrister at a leading human rights chambers, where he regularly represents clients whose rights are at risk.

He previously worked at INQUEST and volunteered at Liberty and Nottingham Law School’s Legal Advice Clinic.

In 2018, concerned about the increasing number of people he knew being stopped and searched, he created the YouTube series ‘The Law in 60 Seconds’ to inform people of their rights and make the law accessible; those videos have now been viewed thousands of times, and been featured on BBC News, in the Guardian and the i Paper. The concept has since been turned into a book.

(AL)

 

Twitter: @ChristianKamali

Further help with complaining effectively

 

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

More tips, advice, template letters and all the details on consumer laws you need GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! too!

 

Note that did not cover lettings – you need Christian’s information see his book for that!

101 Habits if an Effective complainer book cover with logo

 

101 Habits of an Effective Complainer has been designed to improve the way you look at and make complaints. Each page gives you a complaining habit to consider and an example of how and why it empowers you to become more effective in getting the results you want.

 

 

 

 

Purchase downloadable templates to gain redress and use a ready made template to make your complaint. Just fill in your details.