Soaring house prices has seen the rise of ‘generation rent’ over the last few years. Experts predict renters will outnumber homeowners in 104 parliamentary constituencies by 2021, if current housing trends continue. Landlords are cashing in on this tenant trend and some are neglecting their properties and tenant’s rights. According to housing charity, Shelter, 125,000 tenants have fallen victim to abusive landlords in the past year. Renting shouldn’t be stressful and no one should have to put up with a landlord who breaks the law.
Here are some top tips on how to deal with rogue landlords:
1. Brush up on your rights
It's important you know your rights when renting and if you're clued up on what you’re entitled to as a tenant then this will help if any disputes arise with your landlord. As a tenant you have the right to live in a property that's safe and in a good state of repair, have your deposit protected in a government -backed Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), be protected from unfair eviction, and see an energy performance certificate for the property, and so on. For a thorough list of your rights and responsibilities visit GOV.UK.
2. Document everything
From move-in day onwards log and keep all your documents, such as your tenancy agreement, in a safe place. Take photos when you move in and any time you communicate with your landlord, it's worth documenting. Put any repair requests, agreements or concerns in writing and save any emails until your lease is up and you have your deposit back because written proof could be necessary down the line and used as evidence if any disputes arise. Keep a note of any maintenance that's been done or not done in the property throughout your lease and log when you made the landlord aware.
3. Stay calm and collected
It’s easy to get angry when you’ve text and called your landlord dozens of times to fix the heating or the leak in the bathroom but you should not withhold rent payments. It’s important not to act in haste as this could really tarnish your relationship with your landlord, who is perhaps on holiday or just rather forgetful at replying to messages. The best defence against a difficult landlord is to stay calm and fulfil your end of the bargain. In order to avoid arguments and possible grounds for eviction always pay your rent on time.
4. Ask for professional advice
If you think your landlord is breaking the law or acting unfairly then there are professional bodies at hand to help.
A good first port of call is the Private rented Housing Panel www.prhpscotland.gov.uk which was set up specifically so that tenants can take complaints to a Govt body with the powers to demand that Landlords act properly and they can even rule that the tenant does not have to pay any more rent until things are fixed. There is also Shelter, the top housing law charity in the UK. They have a useful online advice guide on their website which provides advice for tenants and also have a helpline.
Local authorities offer free services so are worth checking out if you are experiencing problems with your landlord – plus if they find your landlord has been acting against the law, as enforcers, the Local Authorities have the power to act and in the worst cases take landlords to court.
Some Citizens Advice Bureaus have housing advisors so phone or make an appointment at your local office for free advice. Law centres also offer free legal help and often have housing solicitors to advice you of the best course of action to take.
5. Use a trusted letting agency
Next time you rent, perhaps consider renting a property through a professional letting agency that manage that property on behalf of a landlord and have a network of trades’ people to repair properties quickly and easily. Letting agencies tend to ardently abide by property and tenancy legislation, which some landlords find hard to keep on top with. Agencies avoid the management problems that sometimes arise when a landlord is unfamiliar with rules and regulations.
Steve Coyle, Operations Director, Cullen Property
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