The fact that students live in dirty, run-down houses has become a rite of passage, but it’s bad enough that we’re expected to live like this, we shouldn’t be accepting the fact that our landlords will take advantage of us too.
They bank on us not knowing our rights and so let us live in unsafe conditions. Enough is enough, so I’ve compiled a list of your rights as a tenant to know when you’re being played.
Whilst it’s the duty of the tenant to make sure they leave the property they are renting in the same condition as they found it, this doesn’t mean that if something breaks (not due to the tenant’s/tenant’s guests) that it’s the tenant’s duty to repair it. For example, if your oven stops working or the shower starts leaking, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to sort it out. If this is something minor then there isn’t a specific time frame they need to repair it in, although it should be sorted as soon as possible. However, if it’s something major that could be dangerous or is severely disrupting your tenancy then the landlord should aim to fix it within 24 hours.
If you report a repair that needs doing and the landlord tells you it’s your responsibility (unless you or a guest of yours specifically broke it), they’re wrong. Here is a breakdown of things that are not your responsibility to fix as a tenant:
- The property’s structure and exterior
- Basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings including pipes and drains
- Heating and hot water
- Gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
- Electrical wiring
- Any damage they cause by attempting repairs
Your house has to be safe to live in, and your landlord is responsible for ensuring that is the case. This does mean that your house can be a bit run down (I’m looking at you Portswood), but if you have any loose wires or electrical plugs these are your landlord’s responsibility to sort out. Every level should also have a fire alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm and these should be checked at least once a year by the landlord or letting agency.
As the property is rented, you have to allow access to your landlord if they ask for it. So this means that they can come round and check certain things are working and you have to allow house viewings for future tenants. However, you legally must be given 24 hours notice. In second year, my landlord used to just turn up unannounced – which is a) illegal but also b) really scary if you’re in the shower and hear someone walking around your house (trust me). If your landlord suddenly turns up you’re within your rights to deny them access if they haven’t given you at least 24 hours notice. Also, letting agencies are quite sneaky at sending emails saying that you will have viewings “between 10-6 for the next 6 week”. To save the hassle of constantly waiting on them possibly popping by, you can be given an exact time and date.
If your landlord wants to increase your rent, they must give you 6 months notice if you rent yearly, or a minimum of one month’s notice if you rent weekly or monthly. This means they can’t just decide to up your rent without telling you – and make sure any changes in tenancy agreements are made in writing so you have proof!
Hopefully, this gives a little more clarity as to what you are entitled to as a tenant and also what is (and isn’t) expected of you.