This UoB student took her landlord to court and won her entire year’s rent back
She’s even written her diss on it
Megan Cole, final year UoB PPE student has won a whole year’s rent back after living in unfit housing whilst renting in Selly Oak for her second year.
After taking the landlord to court over unfit housing, she has written her dissertation on it, it has since gone viral on Twitter with over 115k likes in a matter of days.
The Policy, Politics and Economics dissertation is titled “The Power Dynamic in Renting: Rogue Landlords, Vulnerable Tenants and Policy Proposals for Change”, and includes her own experiences of renting as a student in the private sector.
Megan and seven of her housemates moved into a student property in Selly Oak in July 2019. This was their first experience with a landlord after living in halls for first year.
“We were immediately greeted by notes from the previous tenants hidden in various cupboards and bedrooms,” she told The Birmingham Tab that ”
“These outlined the condition of the property and cited issues varying from an ant’s nest, damp/mould, poor Wi-Fi, a dodgy boiler, and leaky showers.”
However, the landlord promised the tenants that these issues would be sorted in due course.
One of Megan’s housemates checked their house on the HMO (house of multiple occupancy) register, and found it was unlicensed. This is required by law and ensures large houses must have certificates for gas safety, energy efficient ratings and ensuring that the communal spaces are large enough.
After contacting Birmingham City Council, who informed them of their landlords “rogue” status, they assessed the property and found it to be unlicensable due to its unfit condition. The eight-bedroom house was deemed only suitable for five tenants, and the level of mould and damp was inadequate to live in.
“The council informed us that our landlord was a known rogue landlord operating in Birmingham, particularly Selly Oak. As such, he would not have been able to obtain the license even if the house met the required standards, Megan told The Birmingham Tab.”
The council also told the residents, they could apply for a Rent Repayment Order which would allow them to take their landlord to court – only if they continued living in the unfit accommodation for the year.
“While the idea of winning 12-months rent back was exciting to all of us, we felt extremely vulnerable and insecure during our time in the house”, she told The Birmingham Tab.
Throughout the year living in unfit accommodation, Megan and her housemates experienced a broken boiler, bailiffs turning up, and many other problems.
During the summer of 2020, they took their landlord to tribunal.
“The landlord denied all accountability for the house not being licensed and also denied the conditions in which we had lived. He showed up to the tribunal with no evidence, only his own word and a belief that the skewed power dynamic would work in his favour.”
“We had compiled over 15 pages of evidence, but we left the tribunal feeling overwhelmed and powerless”.
A month after the tribunal, in August, they found out that they had won the sum of their entire year’s tenancy back. This totaled to £35,000 between eight of them.
However the RRO (rent repayment order) is enforceable, and from this they have to pursue the small claims court.
“We feel stuck in our situation, unsure of how to obtain the money we are entitled to and wary of forking out more money”, Megan told The Birmingham Tab.
In her final year, Megan subsequently wrote her dissertation on her experience, and posted it to social media, where it has received praise and has gone viral.
“I sincerely hope my dissertation and its impact can play a part in the change and help empower tenants across the UK.”
“Please remember, that you are not alone in your housing circumstances, join a tenant’s union, get involved with housing charities and lobby government,” Megan told The Birmingham Tab.
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