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					HOUSING RIGHTS
 A GUIDE FOR STUDENTS




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                                        Contents


Section heading                                                         page


1. Checklist: Please Remember...                                         3

2. Tenancy Agreements

Assured Shorthold Tenancies                                              4
Licences                                                                 4-5


3. What To Look Out For...

Giving Notice to Leave                                                   5
Joint Tenancies                                                          5
Gas Safety                                                               6
Fire Safety                                                              6
Access to Property                                                       6-7
Insurance and House Security                                             7
Receipts for Payment                                                     7
Which bills are included in the rent?                                    7-8
Council Tax                                                              8
Sub-letting                                                              8


4. What to do if…

(a) The landlord asks you to leave at very short notice                  8-9
(b) You wish to leave before the end of a contract                       9
(c) The landlord keeps increasing the rent                               10
(d) The landlord refuses to give back the deposit                        10-11
(e) The landlord has added his/her own clauses to a tenancy agreement
                                                               11
(f) The landlord fails to carry out necessary repairs                    11-12
(g) The property has an infestation of vermin, insects etc.              12
(h) The landlord is abusive or violent                                   12
(i) You leave a property before the end of the tenancy                   12


5. Agencies and Estate Agents                                            13


6. For Further Advice...                                                 14




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                 CHECKLIST: PLEASE REMEMBER...


When you have found your accommodation there are certain precautions which
you must take. In some cases you may have to sign a contract, in others it may
be more informal. Always remember:

1. Read any documents or contracts carefully before signing.


2. Ask for copies of anything you sign. If you sign a contract it is
good practice to be presented with a second copy for yourself at the
same time (although not a legal requirement).

3. Get receipts for any money that you pay. Never pay more than is
needed.


4. Check the period of notice required if you wish to move out. For
example, if you sign a 6 month contract and move out early you will
be liable to pay rent for the rest of the 6 month duration.


5. Be clear about anything you have to pay in addition to the rent
such as which bills you will be responsible for. Make sure you have
this in writing.


6. Although there is no legal obligation by the landlord to provide
one, it is a good idea to ask for an inventory (a list) of all items in the
room / flat and check it is correct before signing. This is evidence that
nothing has been taken or damaged when you decide to move out. If
necessary make your own inventory including photographs of any
damage which was there when you moved in. Please make sure it is
clean and tidy when you leave as otherwise this could be grounds for
withholding deposit.




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7. If you ever write to your landlord, especially if it is a complaint,
always keep a copy.




                              Tenancy Agreements

This is a summary of the two main types of tenancy, Assured Shorthold and Licence.
A third type is the Assured Tenancy, which only applies to tenancies begun before 28
February 1997, or some tenancies in housing association properties. A Secured
Tenancy is for those renting council homes.

1. Assured Shorthold Tenancies

Most tenancies which are not Licences (see below) which were set up after 28 February
1997 are Assured Shorthold Tenancies. This is a tenancy which is for a fixed period of
time of not less than 6 months (so it is a fixed-term tenancy). Therefore a landlord will
not be able to make you leave for the 6 month period, and this is the case even if you
have agreed to an AST for a shorter period, say 4 months. Your landlord does not have
to provide this agreement in writing for it to be an Assured Shorthold, but you do have a
legal right to ask for it in writing. The information should include your name and address,
the date on which the tenancy began, when - if applicable - it ends, how much the rent
is, and when it is payable, as well as any future arrangements for reviewing the rent. The
landlord is legally obliged to provide this information if requested according to section
20A of the Housing Act 1988.

When the fixed-term tenancy agreement ends you may sign another. If, however, you do
not you are still protected. The tenancy becomes Periodic which means that each time
you pay the rent it automatically renews itself until the next rent payment becomes due.
Even if the tenancy was set up as periodic when you first moved in, you are still allowed
to stay in the property for a minimum of 6 months.

2. Licences

If you are living with a landlord in part of his/her home you will usually be a Licencee. A
Licence gives you less protection than an AST. The landlord may give you a proper
Assured Shorthold Tenancy which would offer a greater degree of protection. However,
this will rarely be valid even if the landlord thinks that it is. A Licencee has few rights,
despite the contract you may have signed.

If you are living in a property in which the landlord is not a resident, but the landlord
arranges a service of some kind such as a cleaner, or changing of bed linen within your
room (so this does not mean communal areas such as the stairs or garden), then you
would also be classed as a Licencee.

Bare Contractual tenancies are very similar to a licence. This is when you live in your
own flat but the landlord lives within a flat in the same building (this doesn’t apply to



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purpose-built blocks) or if your rent is over £25,000 per year. Many landlords mistake
this for an AST but, as with the Licence, the tenant has fewer rights.

Given that you have less rights it is worth taking extra precautions. For example, you
may want to ensure that you have a rent book which the landlord signs each time it is
paid. Alternatively pay by cheque and keep a record on the stubs, or ask for a receipt. If
you pay your rent weekly the landlord must provide a rent book by law.

Unless you have signed an agreement prior to moving in, a Licence or Bare Contract
does not give you the protection of a 6 month minimum stay.

For a landlord to be classed as resident, he/she must be living in the property at the start
of the tenancy, still be doing so, and it must be their principle home.



                              What To Look Out For

Giving Notice to Leave

If you have signed a contract with your landlord for a fixed period of time you are
officially bound to it until it ends. (However, some landlords will allow you to move out
before the agreement ends provided you give them sufficient notice). If you wish to leave
at the end of the contractual period, inform your landlord in writing at least 28 days in
advance and keep a copy of the letter. Do not assume that you can simply leave at the
end of the tenancy without doing so. It is a good idea, if posting the written notice to the
landlord, to do so by recorded mail to ensure you have proof of sending it. (N.B. your
notice period may be longer if you pay rent more than one month in advance).

If you do decide to move out without your landlord’s agreement before a tenancy has
ended you will be liable to pay rent until the end of the tenancy. The landlord is under no
legal obligation to find a replacement tenant.

If you are a periodic tenant you must also give your landlord 28 days notice. This is true
even if you pay your rent weekly.

The general rule is that you will always have to give at least 28 days notice to leave,
even if you have not signed any agreement, or you have signed a contract which does
not specify that you must stay in the property for a certain length of time. Please note
that this applies if you pay your rent monthly. If you pay your rent in 3 month periods, for
example, then this is the length of notice which you must give. The only exception to the
28 day rule is if you are living with your landlord, it is your principle home, and you have
no written agreement stating an agreed notice period. In this case you would give at
least a full rental period as notice – so if you pay rent every two weeks this would be the
notice to give.

Joint Tenancies

If you and friends move into a flat together the chances are you will sign a joint tenancy.
This will mean that you will all be responsible for paying the full amount of rent between
you. If someone decides to leave, therefore, they should continue paying until a


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replacement tenant is found. However, if they do not, the other tenants will be
responsible for the extra rent - legally they will have to pay it. If a joint tenant has a
guarantor who has agreed to pay the rent should they default, the guarantor could
become liable for the rent of a different joint tenant who has not paid. In addition, once
the fixed term of the tenancy has finished, one of the joint tenants can serve notice to the
landlord and end the tenancy even if this is against the wishes of the others.




Gas Safety

All gas appliances should be checked once a year by a member of CORGI (Council for
Registered Gas Installers). To fail to do so is illegal. The landlord should be able to show
you a signed certificate. This is according to the Gas Safety (Installation and Use)
Regulations 1998.

It is advisable to be aware of carbon monoxide. This causes approximately 30 deaths a
year. It is tasteless and odourless. If your gas fire, cooker or water heater burns with a
yellow flame instead of blue, or leaves sooty marks on the wall, this can be a sign of
carbon monoxide. It may be advisable to obtain a carbon monoxide alarm if you are not
sure, although this can never be a substitute for having appliances regularly checked.

If your landlord has not had gas appliances serviced to your satisfaction you can contact
the Environmental Health Department at your local council. They will take legal
proceedings against the landlord if necessary. You can also call the Gas Safety Advice
Line for free on 0800 300 363.

Fire Safety

If you live in a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) which has been licensed by the local
authority, the landlord will be expected to comply with certain standards to ensure safety
in the event of fire. This would include having upholstered furniture which is fire
retardant, fitting fire doors to the property and having adequate smoke detectors. The
council would inspect the property to make sure all is in order. An HMO is a household
of three or more tenants forming two or more households – so this would account for
many student flat and house shares. However, it is usually only those HMOs with three
or more storeys and five or more unrelated tenants which have to be licensed.

For those properties which are not licensed there is very little in the British legal system
to enforce a landlord to protect a tenant from fire, so it is your responsibility to do so. It is
a good idea to buy smoke detectors, and decide the easiest means of escape in the
event of a fire. A smoke detector should conform to British Standard BS5446 part 1 and
have a kite mark on it. Landlords are expected to provide furniture and furnishings which
are fire retardant. This includes chairs, mattresses and other soft furnishings. Any
furniture made since 1988 should have labels stating that they comply with the Furniture
and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.

There are precautions which you should take to reduce the risk of fire. Make sure you
can easily find keys to doors and windows, and ensure there are no obstacles which will
prevent you from leaving the building safely. Do not leave cigarettes, candles or pans


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unattended. If cooking with oil never fill the pan more than a third full. Do not keep fires
or heaters too close to other objects. Always switch off electrical appliances where
possible, and be careful not to plug in too many appliances into adaptors and extension
leads (you must never plug two adaptors or extension leads together). If you feel that the
property is at risk of fire, and this is due to poor maintenance on the part of the landlord
rather than your responsibility, contact the Environmental Health department of your
local council.

Access to Property

As a tenant with exclusive possession of a property (i.e. you are not living in the
landlord’s home) you are required to allow the landlord reasonable access to the
property in order to carry out and assess repairs, inspect the property for damage, or in
emergency situations. What is considered ‘reasonable access’ can be open to
interpretation. However, your landlord would normally be expected to give you some
notice of his/her intention to enter the property, which is normally no less than 24 hours
written notice. While paying rent to a landlord you are the temporary owner, so the
landlord does not have the right to simply turn up on your doorstep whenever he/she
wishes. If the landlord does enter the property without your permission this constitutes
trespass, and it is restricting your right as a tenant to the quiet enjoyment of your home.

If you do become concerned about access to your property you generally have the right
to change the locks. Your landlord does not have the right to a key if you prefer him/her
not to have one as long as he/she is able to obtain one in an emergency. You may want
to contact your local council to see if they have a Tenancy Relations Officer you can
speak to, or go to your local Citizens Advice Bureau if you would like advice on this.

Insurance and House Security

Although a landlord should have insurance cover for the building you are living in, this
will not cover your own belongings in the event of theft, fire or damage. You will need to
take out your own insurance policy, which need not be expensive. Please see Student
Services for details.

It is estimated that most burglars are opportunists who are able to access properties
through open doors and windows. Make sure the home you are living in has good locks
on the doors, and preferably the windows as well. Do not leave keys where they can be
easily found and always shut and lock all doors and windows when you are out, even if
you are only leaving the house for a short amount of time. Window keys should be left
out of sight but still be easily accessible in case of fire. If you live in a block of flats, avoid
letting strangers in the main front door. It is also an idea not to leave valuable items in
front of windows where they can easily be seen from outside. For further information on
house security and crime prevention please go to the following website:
www.crimereduction.gov.uk

Receipts for Payment

This cannot be emphasised enough. Please always ensure that you receive a receipt
when you hand over any money. If it is possible, pay by cheque as there will then be a
bank record of how much you have paid and to who. You may wish to ask for a rent



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book, or simply buy a cheap notebook yourself and ask the landlord to use that. Try also
not to pay any more money in advance than is strictly necessary.

The landlord is legally obliged to provide the tenant with an address where
correspondence or notices can be sent. The rent is not due until the landlord has
provided this (section 48 Landlord and Tenant Act 1987). If you are paying rent to a
person or agency on the landlord’s behalf, this receiver of the rent must also provide an
address of the landlord in England or Wales. They have twenty one days from receiving
such a request from a tenant in which to do this (section 1 Landlord and Tenant Act
1985).

Which bills are included in the rent?

Even if a property is advertised as inclusive it is worth checking exactly what this
means. Often not all the bills are included at all, just certain ones such as Water Rates
and Council Tax. Make sure you have confirmation of what you are expected to pay in
writing from the landlord to save later confusion. If bills are exclusive to the rent, this
means that none will be included.

Whoever has registered their name for the payment of bills will be liable for the payment.
So if you move into a flat with two of your friends and you are the person in whose name
the electricity bills are registered, you will be expected to pay regardless of whether your
friends pay you their share. To avoid this it is probably advisable to sign up for bills
jointly if possible. Ensure that all outstanding bills are paid when you leave and the
accounts closed to save disputes later.

Council Tax

Full time students who study for 21 hours or more for at least one academic year are
exempt from paying council tax. The local council will send you a bill. Do not ignore it.
You will need to send back a copy of your exemption certificate which can be obtained
from Academic Services. Please note that these are new rules as of 1st April 2004. Prior
to this, full time students were only entitled to a full exemption on council tax if living
alone, or in a household consisting entirely of students. The household will still be
charged if non-students or part time students live on the premises, but full time students
will not be included in the bill. Dependents will also be excluded provided they have ‘no
recourse to public funds’ or a prohibition on employment stamped in their passport. Part
time students may be entitled to some discount in the form of benefits, so it is also worth
sending a certificate. The amount to be paid will depend upon the area and property as
each council sets its own rate.

Sub-letting

This is when a tenant decides to rent out the property he/she is renting from the landlord
to other tenants, thereby acting as a landlord him/herself. You can only sub-let a
property if you have signed a contract for a fixed period of time, or if you have paid a
deposit which is equivalent to more than 2 months rent. If it is stated in any contract you
have signed that the landlord does not wish you to sub-let, then you must comply.




                                             8
Beware of moving into a property where you are the sub-letter. If the property has been
sub-let to you without the landlord’s permission you will have very little recourse to
prevent yourself from being evicted, even if it is not your fault since you did not know the
property was being sub-let.


                                    What to do if...
(a) The landlord asks you to leave at very short notice

If you have an Assured Shorthold tenancy the landlord can ask you to leave after 6
months provided that he/she has given you at least 2 months notice in advance and in
writing. A ‘section 21’ should be used, otherwise it is possible to argue in a court that the
notice given is invalid. This is a standard form which will be entitled ‘Housing Act 1988,
Section 21’ and/or Notice Requiring Possession. In practice, many landlords will simply
write a letter. However, the law has recently become stricter, and, should you decide to
pursue it, the courts will now insist on a section 21 being provided.

For a Periodic tenancy, if the landlord wishes you to move out, as with the Assured
Shorthold tenancy he/she must give 2 months written notice. A section 21 is not
required, but ideally the letter should say somewhere on it something such as ‘s21 ’88
Housing Act’, meaning it is in compliance with section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act. If a
landlord does not include this information, you could argue that proper notice has not
been served and this would generally be upheld in a court of law. In addition this notice
must expire at the end of a rental period. So, if you paid your rent calendar monthly on
the 15th of each month, and the landlord gave 2 months notice on the 16th, this would be
a day short of a full two months. Legally the landlord would then have to allow you an
additional month in which to move out.

With Assured Shorthold and Periodic tenancies, if you refuse to leave the landlord
must go to court for an eviction order. You would then receive two weeks notice from the
court, and a bailiff will remove you by force if necessary. It is only legal to use a court-
appointed bailiff to evict tenants.

If you have a Licence or a Bare Contract and you are not living with your landlord,
he/she must use a written Notice to Quit (section 5 Protection from Eviction Act 1977).
This should give you a minimum of 28 days notice which has to expire at the end of a full
rental period. If you refuse to leave the landlord must go to court for a possession order.

If you have a Licence where you do live with a landlord in their home, he/she need only
serve notice for the full period between rent payments, and this does not have to be in
writing (although this is good practice). So, if you pay rent weekly, you could have as
little as 7 days notice. You would have no alternative but to leave. The landlord can have
you evicted if you refuse to go without having to go to court first. However, if you have
signed a contract and the landlord wishes you to leave before the contractual period has
ended, he/she will have to go to court and get permission to serve you notice (Protection
of Eviction Act 1977). If the landlord fails to do so, contact your local council.

With any tenancy, if you have not paid rent for 2 months or more the landlord has the
right to try and evict you, but to do so must go to court and get a possession order. The



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court will usually set a date by which you must leave, or may decide you can stay if you
pay the rent you owe in instalments set out by the court. The landlord can also seek to
evict you if you are persistently late in paying the rent but this will be a decision made by
the court. Also, if the condition of the property is in disrepair due to damage caused by
you, the landlord can apply to have you evicted. For any of these reasons the landlord
must give at least 2 weeks notice that he/she intends to start court proceedings. A
landlord can also try to evict you if it is felt that you are being a nuisance to neighbours.
For this the landlord can give you notice of his/her intention and start court proceedings
immediately, and need only give ‘reasonable notice’. What is classed as ‘reasonable’ is
open to interpretation and would depend upon the behaviour of the tenant.

If the landlord defaults on mortgage payments and the house you are renting is
repossessed, you may be asked to leave at very short notice. The mortgage lender has
the right to evict you provided the tenancy began after the landlord had taken out the
mortgage. Often tenants must leave quickly and make an appointment to go back and
collect the rest of their belongings. In these circumstances always seek legal advice.

(b) You wish to leave before the end of a contract

If you have signed a contract for a fixed period of time you can only leave if the landlord
agrees, unless it has been written into the contract that you can do so. Otherwise you
will be obliged to pay rent for the rest of that period or until the landlord can find a
replacement. The landlord has no legal requirement to find another tenant should you
leave early. However, if the landlord does agree to let you move out you will be expected
to give one month’s notice unless otherwise stated. The landlord will still have the right
to try and obtain any losses in rent from you.
(c) The landlord keeps increasing the rent

The landlord should give you at least one month’s notice of any increase. This should be
done in writing. Further increases should then be suggested at yearly intervals. If you
have signed a contract for a period of time such as 6 months, the landlord should not be
able to increase the rent until that period has ended.

If you feel that the rent you are being charged is excessively high, provided you are still
within the first 6 months of your Assured Shorthold tenancy, you can apply to a rent
assessment committee through your local council who will decide whether it should be
reduced. Practically speaking, if the rent seems too high then it is advisable simply not to
rent the property in the first place.

(d) The landlord refuses to give back the deposit

A landlord can keep your deposit money if you have damaged the property in some way
or if you have not given the landlord enough notice of your intention to leave. It is a good
idea when you move in to take an inventory of all the items in the flat, including crockery,
cutlery etc. You can then ask a friend to sign it as a witness that the information is
correct. Make sure you replace any breakages before you leave. You are also advised,
when you move in, to take photographs of the condition of the flat. Always ask for
receipts for any money you pay. Always leave the property clean and tidy. A landlord
can argue he/she is entitled to enough money to cover cleaning costs if you do not.




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From 6th April 2007 the Tenancy Deposit Scheme was launched to protect your deposit
money. The advantage of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme is that it will make it difficult for
a landlord to withhold your deposit without good reason. A disadvantage is that you
cannot pay the deposit in lieu of your last month’s rent.

Essentially, as long as you are not living with the landlord in his/her home, the landlord
must either:

(a) pay your deposit into a nominated scheme; or
(b) take out a policy with a recognised insurance scheme for the value of your deposit.

Failure to do this is illegal and could result in the landlord paying a penalty. The landlord
has 14 days from the date you pay your deposit to inform you of the scheme he/she is
on.

To claim back your deposit when you move out you will fill in an application form and
submit it to the scheme. You may also claim interest charges if you wish. A scheme
should pay your deposit back within ten days of application, provided both parties are in
agreement as to how much should be paid. Further information: www.adviceguide.org.uk
(in fact sheets/housing/tenancy deposits).

If a landlord tries to keep some or all of your deposit money and you disagree with this,
you have two options. The first is to use the free service offered by the scheme holding
your deposit; the alternative dispute resolution service. This service will make a decision
on how much deposit you get back. Once the decision is made this is final and you
cannot then take the landlord to court.
Alternatively, you can try to claim your money back at the small claims court, also known
as the County Court. This is a relatively simple procedure but you are recommended to
seek assistance from a legal body such as a Citizens Advice Bureau. You can go to the
court nearest to where you live (although the landlord can apply for a transfer to the
court closest to where he/she lives). You can either collect an application form in person
or download one online. You must pay a fee, the amount of which depends upon how
much money you are aiming to get back. This will be paid back to you if you win. To find
your local county court, please see the following web site: www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk
It is always advisable to write to the landlord first and tell him of your intentions. The
court would expect this, and sometimes the threat may be enough to make the landlord
pay up.

(e) The landlord has added his/her own clauses to a tenancy agreement

Most tenancy agreements are standard documents bought from a stationers. A landlord
is entitled to add points, for example, No pets on the premises. If, however, you are
unhappy about anything in the contract please do not sign it without first seeking advice,
or get the landlord to clarify in writing on the document what he or she intends. An
additional clause may not necessarily be valid anyway. Always keep a copy of the
contract. Examples of what may be classed as unfair terms in a contract include:
    • Something not written in plain intelligible language;
    • A clause forbidding the tenant from taking a dispute to court;
    • A term allowing the landlord to end the tenancy early while not allowing the
         tenant to do so.



                                             11
The Office of Fair Trading produces a guide; ‘Unfair tenancy terms – don’t get caught
out’ (October 2007). See www.oft.gov.uk In such cases always seek legal advice.

(f) The landlord fails to carry out necessary repairs

Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 states that the landlord is responsible
for the structure and repair of the outside of the house, including drains, gutters and
pipes, as well as sinks, baths and toilets, heating and hot water. He or she is also
responsible for pipes and installations for water, gas and electricity. This applies to
tenancies of less than seven years, so if you have lived there longer seek legal advice
as slightly different rules apply. A landlord is not responsible for repairs to damage
caused by the tenant. If you are living in the landlord’s home he/she does not have the
same legal obligations. In these circumstances you would need to contact your local
council – usually the Environmental Health department – if you have concerns about
disrepair. Remember, you are entitled to heating, lighting, cooking facilities (unless
otherwise agreed) and hot water.

If you have repairs which you feel are the landlord’s responsibility, write a letter giving
details and keep a copy. If it is a relatively minor repair which has not been fixed
properly, or that the landlord has not got around to putting right, you could opt to get the
repairs carried out yourself. You would need to get three estimates and send them to the
landlord with a final written warning. If the landlord still fails to act you can then use the
cheapest supplier to carry out the work. You need to be cautious however. If something
goes wrong with the repair the landlord could argue that it is not his/her responsibility.

Disrepair is a very complicated issue and will often require legal advice. There are many
areas where it is not clear what the landlord would be responsible for and this would be
decided by a judge. For instance, a tenant would not be expected to clear a gutter but
would be required to remove leaves from a drain. Light bulbs would normally be the
tenant’s responsibility (unless particularly dangerous to change) but outside ones would
generally be the landlord’s job. Internal door handles and tap washers are another grey
area. Disrepair issues can also take a long time to resolve. In some cases you might be
able to prove that the landlord is in fundamental breach of contract. If this is the case you
would not be liable for any further rent but neither would you receive a refund for past
rent already paid. In this situation a solicitor would advise you to stop paying rent
immediately. In other circumstances a repair may be classed as a hazard, in which case
you would need to call in Environmental Health. In some instances prosecutions can be
made under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Getting legal aid to pay a for solicitor’s costs is difficult. You may be able to do so
providing you are claiming more than £1000 worth of damage.

(g) The property has an infestation of vermin, insects etc.

Any room or flat which you move into should be in reasonable decorative order. It should
also be clean. If the landlord has not ensured a basic standard of hygiene then it is likely
there will be further problems such as the presence of vermin, eg mice and cockroaches.

If you an infestation of mice, cockroaches, ants, etc., in the property where you are
living, it is up to the landlord to take sufficient steps to eradicate this (unless you, the
tenant, caused the problem, in which case it is your responsibility). If your landlord fails


                                             12
to do this then you are advised to inform the Environmental Health Office of your local
council.

(h) The landlord is abusive or violent

If a landlord threatens you verbally this can unfortunately be quite difficult to prove. If this
does happen please ask Student Services for advice or seek help from your local
Citizens Advice. Try to keep a record of times and dates of events.

If the landlord enters the property without your permission with the intention of harassing
or threatening you this would constitute trespass which is an offence. If the landlord
physically abuses you this would represent assault. You must call the police as charges
will normally be made against the landlord in such a situation. If you feel threatened in
your home for any reason please seek advice from Student Services as help can be
given in finding you alternative accommodation.

(i) You leave a property before the end of the tenancy

Once you have agreed to a tenancy you must usually pay rent for the full term. There
can be exceptions. For instance, if the property is unfit for habitation as soon as you
move in, or even before, you may be able to renounce the contract. Another example of
when it may be possible to do this is if the landlord gets you to move in under false
pretences. In some instances you may be able to move out during the tenancy. If a
landlord harassed you this would often be grounds for moving. Also, if the property was
in a state of extreme disrepair you may be able to justifiably leave. This is a complex
legal area and professional advice must be sought.

If you agree to rent a property without seeing the place, for instance if you are still in
your home country and contact the landlord before arrival in the UK, there is often a right
to cancel. You would normally have seven days in which to do so on signing the
contract. This comes under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations
2000 – deemed by the Office of Fair Trading to apply to tenants. Once again this is a
complex piece of legislation for which you need a solicitor’s assistance. Generally
speaking, it is recommended that you do not take a property without first viewing it.
                           Agencies and Estate Agents


Agencies can be an easy way of looking for flat and house shares, flats and houses,
bedsits and studios. You will have to go and register and give an approximate price that
you are prepared to pay and in which areas. If they have property available they will set
up an appointment for you to view. You would normally be expected to pay one month’s
rent in advance and a deposit.

The agency closest to the College which you are recommended to try is Southern
Accommodation Bureau. To register call 020 8852 0244 / 2429 and leave a message.
Or fax 020 8852 2010. This agency is free of charge so no administration fee needs
to be paid if a room is found for you.

Most agencies will charge you for their service. This can be anything from the equivalent
of one week’s rent to £100 or more. Always telephone and check before going to



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register. Never pay anything until accommodation has been found for you. By law
you are not entitled to pay anything until a contract has been signed. If an agency does
try to charge you before signing a contract please refuse. According to the
Accommodation Agencies Act of 1953 this is illegal. Please inform Student Services
if this does happen as we will report them to Trading Standards.

In addition, if you are looking for flats and houses you may wish to try the following
estate agents. These differ to agencies in that they advertise flats and houses only to
rent or buy, but not individual rooms or flat/house shares. However, Lloyd Jones
occasionally has rooms available so it is worth asking. Expect to pay around £100+ in
administration charges.

Conran Estates                 Harrison Ingram              Lloyd Jones
46 Charlton Church Lane        1A The Village                    12 Charlton Church
Lane
Charlton. SE7 7AB.             Charlton. SE7 8UG            Charlton. SE7 7AF
Tel: 020 8293 0454             Tel: 020 8858 3434           Tel: 020 8269 2151
Fax: 020 8269 2189             Fax: 020 8858 9191           Fax: 020 8269 2152

Indigo                         Your Move                    Indigo
45 Hare Street                 117 Plumstead Common Rd      21 Lakedale Road
Woolwich. SE18 6NE             Plumstead. SE18 2UQ          Plumstead. SE18 1PP.
Tel: 020 8317 2002/4550        Tel: 020 8855 1224           Tel: 020 8317 1999
Fax: 020 8855 1115                                          Fax: 020 8317 2200

To ensure an estate agent is reputable, check that they are a member of NAEA
(National Association of Estate Agents) www.naea.co.uk or ARLA (Association of
Residential Letting Agents) www.arla.co.uk




For Further Advice...


If you are in any difficulties and need further information it is often worth coming to
Student Services and speaking to the Accommodation Co-ordinator. For more specialist
legal advice try:

Greenwich Housing Rights
36 Wellington Street
Woolwich
London
SE18 6PF



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Tel: 020 8854 8848

Telephone advice is given on Tuesday & Thursday 2:00 – 5:00 or Friday 10:00 – 1:00.
You can go in person on Monday 2 – 4 or Wednesday 10 – 12. You can also see a
Housing Adviser at Woolwich Town Hall on Tuesday 5 – 7. The Town Hall is located on
Wellington Street.


For a solicitor in your area go to: www.clsdirect.org.uk (If you are searching for a legal
aid provider – also called an LSC Funded Provider – use the advanced search).


It is also worth phoning your local council as they may have Tenancy Relations
Officers. Greenwich Council offers such a service, and they can be contacted on 020
8921 2616. A TRO will not only take on your case but also represent you at court if
necessary.

You can also seek advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau which you can find
at: www.citizensadvice.org.uk The nearest CAB to Holborn College is in Woolwich. The
details are as follows:

Old Town Hall
Polytechnic Street
Woolwich
London
SE18 6PN Tel: 0845 120 2931

Telephone advice is given on Tuesday and Thursday 2:30 – 3:30, Wednesday 10:00 –
11:00 and Friday 11:00 – 12:00 & 2:30 – 3:30.

Drop-in advice is given on Monday , Tuesday and Wednesday 10:00 – 12:00.


Shelter is a charitable housing organisation specialising in housing advice and helping
the homeless. They are particularly useful in emergency situations. They can be called
free of charge and 24 hours a day on 0808 800 4444. Cards which you can place in your
purse or wallet with these details are available from Student Services.

Please note that this leaflet is intended as a guide only. If in doubt always seek
legal advice.
April 2008




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