Half of young people have been screwed over by a landlord’s illegal behaviour

Here’s what to look out for and how you can know your renters’ rights

Half of students and young people have been the victim of illegal behaviour by their landlord, new research has found.

Housing charity Shelter has conducted research with YouGov, into illegal behaviour from landlords, such as landlords not placing deposits in the approved government protection schemes, and has shared with The Tab the shocking results found both for for 16-24 year olds and full-time students.

It found 50 per cent of full-time students have been the victim of illegal acts by their landlord or lettings agent.

Over one-third (36 per cent) of students say their landlord or agent entered their home without giving any notice or chance to give permission, and 17 per cent say essential safety or household appliances, such as fire alarms, water and central heating, were not working when they moved in to a property.

This raises issues for security, safety and living standards.

More than one in 10 (11 per cent) of students and young people say they have been treated unfairly by a landlord or letting agent due to their race, age, nationality, gender, sexuality or disability.

Almost one in five (19 per cent) of students say their deposit paid to a landlord or lettings agent was not placed with any of the approved government protection schemes.

Shelter has shared some key ways private renters in England can use their legal rights:

Landlords are legally responsible for repairs and safety

Landlords have a legal responsibility to keep the structure and exterior of the property free from disrepair. They also have to make sure that amenities and energy supplies in the property are in working order.

They must have a valid gas safety certificate, make sure gas appliances are in safe condition, and have a Gas Safe registered engineer carry out an annual gas safety check. Furniture provided must also comply with fire safety requirements.

Harassment and illegal eviction are criminal offences

Illegal evictions include landlords throwing you out, changing the locks while you’re out, pressuring you to leave without serving correct notice or going through proper legal procedure. This is a criminal offence and anyone going through this should contact the tenancy relations officer at their local council, who can help you take action.

Know what tenant fees landlords are banned from charging

The only permitted payments landlords or agents can charge for, are:

• tenancy deposit (up to maximum of five or six weeks’ rent)

• holding deposit (up to maximum of one week’s rent)

• a fee in the event of a “relevant default” (such as the costs of replacing a lost key)

• damages for breach of agreement

• in connection with tenant’s request for a variation, assignment, or surrender of a tenancy

• in respect of council tax, utilities, communication services and TV licence

Know your landlord’s name and address

Private tenants have a legal right to know their landlord’s name and address, and have a right to obtain obtain the names and addresses of directors if the landlord is a company, and must be informed of any sale or transfer to a new landlord.

‘Millions of renters don’t feel safe [at home] because of landlords who flout the law’

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Home is everything. Yet millions of private renters across the country don’t feel safe or secure in theirs because of landlords and agents who flout the law. People should not have to put up with broken safety alarms, strangers bursting into their homes unannounced or the threat of harassment and violence.

“Enough is enough. Nobody is above the law and renters are tired of being powerless to enforce their rights. The government has promised voters a fairer private renting system that punishes illegal behaviour by landlords and letting agents. To deliver on this promise, its Renters’ Reform Bill must include a National Landlord Register that makes landlords fully accountable and helps drive up standards across private renting.”

Shelter is calling on the government to provide greater protections for all renters, including students and young people.

You can visit Shelter for help and more information.

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