Disputes

Landlord and Agent Disputes

Living in student accommodation for many is one of the great experiences of going to University. However sometimes unexpected problems occur no matter how hard you plan ahead or try to prevent them. This guide is based on some of the more common queries that we advise on each year in relation to disputes and relationship breakdown, whether between landlord and tenant or housemates.


Tenant Responsibilities

One of the most common reasons for a dispute to occur between a landlord and tenant is that relating to a repair issue. To prevent situations of disrepair we recommend you always treat the property in what is often referred to in tenancy agreements as a ‘tenant like manner’ which includes:

  • Reporting all disrepair in writing, promptly. Be aware you may be liable and charged for additional damage in cases where a repair is not reported.
  • Take all reasonable steps to ensure you and any guests do no damage to the property.
  • Undertake minor day-to-day maintenance, for example unblocking sinks and replacing light bulbs.
  • Keep the property clean and tidy including the cooker, fridge and freezer, toilet, bath/shower.
  • Protect the property during spells of absence.
  • In winter ensure the property is appropriately heated to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the garden and bin areas clean and tidy. All rubbish should be carefully bagged, put in the rubbish bins where provided and disposed of as per collections.

See our Bills, Safety and Repairs guide or get in contact to discuss your options.


Letting Agent Redress Schemes

Letting agencies must belong to one of two redress schemes (The Property Ombudsman and Property Redress Scheme), which provide a free, independent service for resolving disputes between you and a letting agent. The redress scheme has the power to order letting agents to put something right and/or pay compensation if it deems fit following a complaint.

You can complain to a letting agency redress scheme about issues such as not clearly advertising fees, inaccurate property descriptions, disputes about fees to reserve a property, not passing rent onto the landlord or general poor service. However you must first give the letting agency the chance to deal with your complaint. If this is something you are considering, get in touch to discuss your options.


Property Access

All tenants have a right to what the law states to be “quiet enjoyment” which means you have a right to live in the property as your home. The law implies tenants should be able to use the property without interference from your landlord or agent.

The landlord or agent should ask permission before they enter the premises and should give you at least 24 hours’ written notice of an inspection, to carry out repairs or to show prospective tenants around if your contract allows viewing during the contract. This should also be at reasonable times for you.


Landlord Contact Details

Some landlords have a managing agent to deal with queries and repairs at their property. However, the contract is with the landlord, who has legal obligations and responsibilities. These obligations and responsibilities are a requirement of registration with Rent Smart Wales.

The full Code of Practice can be accessed through the following link:

www.rentsmart.gov.wales/en/

If you do not have direct contact with your landlord, it can be useful to have their full details. You can find out the landlord’s name and address by making a written request to the person or agent who last collected rent, pointing out your right to this information under Section 1 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. You should keep a copy of the email or letter, and send it by recorded delivery. The law says that the information should be provided within 21 days of the request, otherwise get in contact to discuss your options.


Harassment

Issues such as the landlord entering the accommodation without notice, or so often and at such times that the tenant no longer feels secure in their own home could be interpreted as a form of harassment. Other forms of harassment include interfering with services such as gas, electricity or water as well as threatening or abusive behaviour. Harassment is a criminal offence and a breach of the tenant’s rights under a tenancy agreement, but before making allegations it is important to make sure there is not an innocent explanation, so get in contact to discuss your options.


Rent Arrears

Your Rent is known as a high priority debt, although if you do not keep up with payments your landlord may take steps to evict you. This process will usually start with your landlord sending you letters reminding you about the overdue rent, and they may charge you for these letters. You may also be charged for making late payments of your rent. If you are an Assured Shorthold tenant and you fall into more than eight weeks/two months arrears your landlord can start possession proceedings against you.


Eviction

If your landlord claims you have broken your tenancy agreement and asks you to leave get in contact to discuss urgently. All landlords have to follow special legal procedures in order to evict tenants (even if the fixed period of the tenancy has ended). The process depends on the type of tenancy you have and other factors, so get in contact to discuss your options as soon as possible.


Housemate and Neighbour Disputes

Living in a shared space can sometimes be tough and trivial disagreeing can quickly escalate into full blown arguing. This can often be resolved by speaking with the other person informally with a view to resolve the matter. If differences cannot be resolved, get in contact to discuss your options.

It’s a fact of life if you live with or near others, there may be clashes of personality. What’s important is to compromise, consider the other persons view, and allow some ‘give and take’. However if at any time behaviour becomes threatening or abusive, contact your landlord or agent, or if you feel unsafe you can contact the police using 101 or in emergencies 999.

If you no longer want to live in the property and decide to move out it is important to realise that most tenancies are for a fixed period of time. See our Moving Out guide or get in touch to discuss your options.


Noise

A common complaint from tenants and local residents alike is that of noisy neighbours. Unwanted noise is always frustrating, especially when cramming in last minute revision. If you have a problem with noisy neighbours it is advisable to try and resolve the matter informally.

If it is an ongoing problem, it is important to keep a detailed log of all the incidents including times, dates as well as the duration and repetitiveness of occurrences as you may wish to make a complaint to your landlord, agent or, if external to your property, Ceredigion Council on 01970 625277.

For more information on dealing with noise complaints, get in contact to discuss your options or go to:

www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/housing/tenant-zone/housing-conditions/common-problems/noise/


Bins and Recycling Collection

Always remember to put your rubbish out on the correct day! Refuse is extremely attractive to vermin, particularly seagulls and is a common issue in disputes between neighbours. Recycling and food waste bags can be collected from Tourist Information Centres, Customer Service Centres or Council Libraries.

For more information on bins and recycling collection go to:

www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/bins-recycling/


What can the AberSU Advice Service do to help?

The AberSU Advice Service provides free, confidential and impartial advice and information for all Aberystwyth University students.

The Advice Service can assist you in a range of ways, including:

  • Explain the rights and responsibilities of landlords, letting agents and tenants.
  • Review and advise on tenancy agreements, before and after signing.
  • Support you in the event of a dispute, liaising with the landlord or letting agent.
  • Help you to collate appropriate evidence where required to support your case.

The service is delivered by drop-ins, appointments, email and phone. We also undertake other activities and events to develop awareness of student rights and responsibilities to ensure you are as happy and health as possible during your time in Aberystwyth.

To get in touch to discuss all of your options, including what support is available to you, please contact us using any of the methods below:

Drop-in: Students’ Union Building, Penglais Campus

Phone: 01970 612700

Email: union.advice@aber.ac.uk

Website: www.abersu.co.uk/advice


Useful links


Reviewed: September 2018

Disclaimer: We have made every effort to ensure that the information in this guide is accurate. AberSU cannot be held responsible for the consequences of any action taken as a result of reading this guide. Before taking any action you are advised to visit the Advice Service.