There are many rights you should be aware of when renting a property. There are two that stand out as the most important. One is the right to have your house in a good state of repair. The other is the requirement of your landlord to protect your deposit with a recognised scheme. We explain both of these in detail.
Living in rented accommodation can be a great way to have a place to call your own without the burden of owning property. However, it can also come with its own set of challenges, such as disrepair issues that may impact your health, safety, and quality of life. As a tenant, it is important to be aware of the issues that could make you eligible for a housing disrepair claim in the UK.
In this article, we will discuss some of the common issues with rented accommodation that could make you eligible for a housing disrepair claim in the UK.
Damp and mould
Common issues in rented accommodation include damp and mould, particularly in properties with poor ventilation and insulation. Damp can occur when there is excess moisture in the property, which can lead to mould growth. Mould can cause respiratory problems, such as asthma and allergies, and can also exacerbate existing health conditions.
If you notice signs of damp and mould in your rented accommodation, such as a musty smell, water stains, or black spots on walls, ceilings, or furniture, you should report it to your landlord immediately. Your landlord has a legal obligation to ensure that the property is free from damp and mould and to take steps to address the issue.
Faulty heating and hot water
As a tenant, you have a right to live in a property with adequate heating and hot water. If your heating system is faulty or not working properly, it can be uncomfortable and even dangerous during cold weather. Similarly, if your hot water system is not functioning correctly, it can impact your ability to maintain hygiene and cleanliness.
If you are experiencing issues with your heating or hot water, you should report it to your landlord immediately. They have a legal obligation to ensure that the heating and hot water systems in the property are in good working order.
Pest infestations can be a serious issue in rented accommodation, particularly in properties with poor maintenance and hygiene. Pests such as rats, mice, cockroaches, and bed bugs can carry diseases and pose a threat to your health and wellbeing.
If you notice signs of a pest infestation, such as droppings, bite marks, or an unpleasant smell, you should report it to your landlord immediately. They have a legal obligation to ensure that the property is free from pests and to take steps to address the issue.
Structural issues such as cracks in walls or ceilings, leaks, and subsidence can have serious implications for your health and safety. This can also impact the value of the property and may require extensive repairs.
If you notice any structural issues in your rented accommodation, you should report it to your landlord immediately. They have a legal obligation to ensure that the property is safe and habitable for tenants and to take steps to address any structural issues.
Electrical hazards such as faulty wiring, overloaded sockets, and broken appliances can be dangerous and pose a risk of electric shock or fire. As a tenant, you have a right to live in a property with safe and functioning electrical systems.
If you notice any electrical hazards in your rented accommodation, you should report it to your landlord immediately. They have a legal obligation to ensure that the electrical systems in the property are safe and in good working order.
Plumbing and drainage issues
Plumbing and drainage issues can cause inconvenience, discomfort, and even health hazards for tenants. Issues such as leaks, blockages, and flooding can damage your possessions and impact your ability to use the property.
If you are experiencing plumbing and drainage issues, you should report it to your landlord immediately. They have a legal obligation to ensure that the plumbing and drainage systems in the property are in good working order and to take steps to address any issues.
Poor ventilation and insulation
Poor ventilation and insulation can lead to a range of issues in rented accommodation, including damp, mould, and poor air quality. Inadequate insulation can also result in higher energy bills for tenants.
If you notice poor ventilation and insulation in your rented accommodation, you should report it to your landlord immediately. They have a legal obligation to ensure that the property is adequately ventilated and insulated to prevent issues such as damp and mould.
Unsafe or damaged furnishings
Unsafe or damaged furnishings such as broken furniture or faulty appliances can pose a risk to your safety and wellbeing. As a tenant, you have a right to live in a property with safe and functioning furnishings.
If you notice any unsafe or damaged furnishings in your rented accommodation, you should report it to your landlord immediately. They have a legal obligation to ensure that the furnishings in the property are safe and in good working order.
Lack of security measures
A lack of security measures in rented accommodation can pose a risk to your safety and security. Issues such as broken locks or inadequate lighting can make the property vulnerable to break-ins and burglaries.
If you notice a lack of security measures in your rented accommodation, you should report it to your landlord immediately. They have a legal obligation to ensure that the property is secure and to take steps to address any security issues.
What to do if you have disrepair issues in your rented accommodation
If you are experiencing any of the above disrepair issues in your rented accommodation, it is important to take action as soon as possible. Here are some steps you can take:
- Report the issue to your landlord in writing. Be clear and specific about the issue and the steps you expect your landlord to take to address it.
- Keep a record of your communications with your landlord, including emails, letters, and phone calls.
- Give your landlord a reasonable amount of time to address the issue. If they fail to do so, you may be eligible to make a housing disrepair claim.
- Seek legal advice from a housing solicitor or a specialist housing charity, such as Shelter or Citizens Advice.
Making a housing disrepair claim
If your landlord has failed to address a disrepair issue in your rented accommodation, you may be eligible to make a housing disrepair claim. This involves taking legal action against your landlord to compel them to make the necessary repairs and compensate you for any damages or losses you have suffered as a result of the disrepair.
To make a housing disrepair claim, you will need to provide evidence of the disrepair issue and your attempts to have it resolved by your landlord. You will also need to demonstrate the impact that the disrepair has had on your health, safety, or quality of life.
If you are considering making a housing disrepair claim, it is important to seek legal advice from a housing solicitor or a specialist housing charity. They can provide you with guidance on the legal process and help you to navigate the complexities of the housing disrepair claim system.
Tenancy Deposit Protection
When renting a property in the UK, tenants are often required to pay a tenancy deposit. This deposit is intended to protect the landlord against any damages or unpaid rent at the end of the tenancy. However, some landlords fail to protect these deposits, putting tenants at risk of losing their money. In this article, we will explore the issue of unprotected tenancy deposits in the UK and what tenants can do to protect their rights.
What is a tenancy deposit?
A tenancy deposit is a sum of money paid by the tenant to the landlord or letting agent at the beginning of a tenancy. This deposit is usually equivalent to a few weeks’ or months’ rent and is intended to protect the landlord against any damages or unpaid rent at the end of the tenancy. The deposit is typically held by the landlord or letting agent in a government-backed deposit protection scheme.
The three government-backed tenancy deposit protection schemes are:
- Deposit Protection Service (DPS)
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
Under UK law, landlords must protect their tenants’ deposits by placing them in one of these schemes within 30 days of receiving the deposit.
What happens when a tenancy deposit is not protected?
If a landlord fails to protect a tenancy deposit, they are breaking the law. The consequences of this can be severe for the landlord, as well as the tenant.
If a landlord fails to protect a deposit, they may be ordered by a court to repay the deposit to the tenant. In addition, they may be ordered to pay a fine of up to three times the value of the deposit.
For tenants, an unprotected deposit can be a significant financial risk. If the landlord fails to return the deposit at the end of the tenancy, the tenant may have little recourse to recover their money. In addition, if the landlord becomes insolvent, the tenant may not be able to recover their deposit from them.
What are the common reasons for landlords not protecting deposits?
There are several reasons why landlords may fail to protect their tenants’ deposits. These include:
- Lack of knowledge: Some landlords may not be aware of their legal obligations to protect their tenants’ deposits.
- Deliberate non-compliance: In some cases, landlords may choose not to protect deposits in order to avoid the cost and administrative burden of doing so.
- Mistakes: Some landlords may make mistakes when attempting to protect deposits, such as failing to register the deposit with a scheme or failing to provide the tenant with the required information about the deposit protection.
What can tenants do if their deposit is not protected?
If a tenant believes that their deposit has not been protected, they should first raise the issue with their landlord or letting agent. The landlord may be willing to rectify the situation by placing the deposit in a protection scheme.
If the landlord refuses to protect the deposit or fails to do so within 30 days, the tenant can take legal action to recover their deposit and seek compensation. This may involve making a claim through the county court or using an alternative dispute resolution service such as the Housing Ombudsman.
Tenants can also report their landlord to their local council or the Trading Standards Office. These organisations have the power to investigate landlords who are suspected of not complying with their legal obligations.
How can tenants protect themselves?
There are several steps that tenants can take to protect themselves against landlords who do not protect their deposits:
- Check that the landlord has protected the deposit: Before entering into a tenancy agreement, tenants should ask their landlord or letting agent which scheme their deposit will be protected by. They can then check with the relevant scheme to ensure that the deposit has been protected.
- Get a receipt: Tenants should always ask for a receipt when they pay their deposit. This will serve as proof of payment and can be used as evidence in the event of a dispute.
- Keep records: Tenants should keep copies of all correspondence with their landlord or letting agent, including emails, letters, and text messages. This will help to establish a paper trail in case of a dispute.
- Take photos: Before moving into the property, tenants should take photos of the condition of the property and any existing damage. This will help to avoid disputes about damage to the property at the end of the tenancy.
- Know your rights: Tenants should be aware of their legal rights and obligations as set out in the tenancy agreement and UK law. This will help them to recognise when their landlord is not fulfilling their legal obligations.
- Seek legal advice: If tenants are unsure of their rights or if they are having difficulty getting their deposit back, they should seek legal advice from a solicitor or a Citizens Advice Bureau.
Protecting a tenancy deposit is a legal requirement for landlords, or management companies acting as agents, in the UK. Failure to protect a deposit can result in severe consequences for both landlords and tenants. Tenants who suspect that their deposit has not been protected should take action and seek legal advice. By taking proactive steps to protect themselves, tenants can avoid the financial risk of an unprotected deposit. They also ensure that they are treated fairly and legally by their landlords.