Common landlord problems
A short guide to keeping the evil landlords at bay.
Landlord puts rent up half way through your lease
Before moving into any privately rented accommodation you will need to have read and signed an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement. This is a legal contract - signed by both landlord and tenant - that sets down the terms and conditions of your tenancy, usually for the next 12 months. These include the amount of rent you will be charged during this time period, so the landlord cannot, by law, choose to increase it during the term of the contract.
Belinda from Shelter explains some common landlord scams you need to watch out for when renting.
Landlord withholds your deposit
From April 6, 2007, the deposit you give your landlord will, by law, need to be held in the Government's Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. This has been set up to prevent unscrupulous landlords from withholding all your dosh - which can be up to six weeks' rent - for no good reason. The scheme will help you get your deposit back without having to go to court.
But this doesn't mean you can withhold your final month's rent, either. This is breaking the terms of your contract, too, and you risk prosecution. Always pay a deposit using a cheque, banker's draft or credit card so you have your own proof of payment. But ask your landlord or lettings agent for a receipt, too.
Landlord turns up uninvited
You don't have to let him in because reasonable notice is required for inspection. Also, under the law, landlords can't prevent your friends from visiting - neither can they let themselves in when you're not there without your prior consent. To all extent and purposes, when you're renting the home it belongs to you and not the landlord.
Landlord kicks us out
You can only be kicked out if:
"Always pay a deposit using a cheque, banker's draft or credit card so you have your own proof of payment."
- The owner wants to come back and live in the property
- The house is being repossessed - though the mortgage lender must still give notice
- You're over two months in arrears with your rent
- You refuse vital maintenance work
A landlord can also ask the court to consider eviction if:
- You've broken the terms of your contract
- You're consistently late in paying the rent
- You lied to get the place
However, for most private tenants, the landlord can give two months' notice and get a court order without needing to give a reason. Provided the landlord has followed certain housing rules (e.g. the two months' notice must not end before the end of the first six months of a tenancy), the court will grant an order. If you live with your landlord, however, in most cases they can just give you notice and don't need a court order.
The Housing Act 2004
Under the Government's Housing Act, which came into force on April 13, 2006, more landlords will need to have licenses and their properties rated as acceptable under new housing fitness standards.
Local authorities will assess housing conditions using the Housing, Health and Safety System, which replaces the old housing fitness standards. Hazards such as excess cold, the presence of asbestos and falls on stairs and between levels of the house will be assessed under the new rating system.
The new law also gives the Government-sponsored Residential Property Tribunal Service further powers to deal with housing law issues.
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