Here are the places you can actually get support if your landlord is being useless
PLEASE can you fix our boiler xxx
UK student housing is famously poor quality, and things obviously break or need replacing. However, it’s no secret landlords and letting agents hate having to do repairs. Whether it’s mould, broken appliances, rats (or all three) many of them spend the entire tenancy shirking their legal requirements and hoping their tenants won’t notice. Here’s how you can (hopefully) get your deposit back while having a functioning flat.
Actually read the contract
The worst thing you can do is send an angry email to the letting agency only to discover you’ve got no legs to stand on. Make sure you and all your flatmates read the rules about ventilation, cleaning, and decor, so you’re all held accountable for any issues.
Complain to your letting agency/landlord
The first port of call is letting your landlord or letting agent know about the problem, as soon as you can. If they’re any good, there’ll send someone out within a few days to fix it. Don’t be afraid to bug them if they don’t reply.
Keep records of absolutely everything
There are loads of simple things you can do as soon as you move in to keep your deposit. When you move in, take photos of everything wrong with the flat. If anything gets worse over time, take photos of that too. Don’t delete any emails to and from the landlord, and ask for anything said in person to be given to you in writing as well. That way, the dates and explicit wording of any problems will be easily accessible to you should you need them.
Contact the council
If the issues in your flat (eg. mould, mice or broken steps) are affecting your health and safety, you can report your landlord to environmental health and go to your local council. Check their website to work out if your repairs are bad enough to warrant getting them involved.
Go to your uni’s advice place
At Edinburgh, where I go to uni, The Advice Place offers free advice about private renting on campus. Most unis have a similar version, offering free and confidential support and help with getting a flat – find out what your uni’s is and use it. They’ll be clued up on the law and know about in your city/town, and should be able to point you to more help if necessary.
Probably one of the most helpful websites ever, Citizens Advice offers advice on just about everything you don’t learn in school, but should. Whether it’s repairs, energy bills or bank security, they cover the different rules in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
See if there are any support groups in your city
Scotland has Living Rent, Manchester has Greater Manchester Housing Action: most UK cities will have a union of renters fighting for support, whether it’s coordinated under a group or a particularly active Facebook group.
Most people know Shelter as a homelessness charity, but they also have a great website. Also offering advice separated between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Shelter is a resource to help you understand your rights as a renter.
The Right to Repair scheme
A little-known but potentially life saving law. In Scotland, you can force landlords to undertake certain repairs within 14 days under the Right to Repair scheme. Make sure to check you have a tenancy which matches the requirements for repairs.
Remember: you don’t have to pay for professional cleaning
Landlords who demand you pay for a professional cleaning service at the end of the tenancy are breaking the Tenants Fee Act 2019. They can be fined up to £5,000 – all they can do is ask you to return the flat to the description on the inventory they send you at the start of the tenancy.