Is your landlord allowed to do that?

Is your landlord allowed to do that?


Being a 20-something, most of my friends rent. In fact if one of them did happen to buy, I would be deeply suspicious. I would assume that they’d won the lottery, or that maybe they’d got hold of a place where some sort of grisly crime had been committed.


But gripes about the ‘current market’ aside, in our circle of ‘rentees’, slightly strained relationships with landlords have almost become part and parcel of letting.


Of course some landlords can be a breath of fresh air. They can sort any issues out quickly and even be good enough to replace fittings and carpets on a surprisingly frequent basis. They can however, seriously push the boundaries, leaving tenants to feel wronged, but unsure of what they can actually do about it- after all it’s their house right?


It may be their house, but it’s your home and if something makes you feel uncomfortable, ripped-off (outside of your normal rent payments that is!) or inconvenienced, chances are your contract is on your side.


The landlord tells you they are cutting the ‘middle-man’ letting agency: Can you ask for a rent reduction?


So your landlord currently uses a letting management agency who appear to do very little. If your landlord comes to you and explains this then be aware 1) that your landlord will be saving (therefore you could save too) and 2) are you happy dealing with your landlord directly?


What can you do?


Firstly make sure you are comfortable with liaising directly with your landlord. A property management service is a professional go-between, do you trust your landlord to offer a similar level of respect and professionalism? If you prefer to deal with a management company then this may be worth keeping in mind in regards to your contract renewal.


If you’re happy with dealing with your landlord directly then it may be worth gaining a little insight into how much they will be paying the property management company. If 15% is common with agencies in your area, then feel free to ask for this to be taken off your rent. While the landlord will most likely be hoping to make a little more money from dropping the middle-man, you can negotiate. After all a 7.5 reduction on a £600 a month rent works out at a pleasant £45 reduction.


The landlord just walks into your flat


The letting agents know that you work 9-5 Monday-Friday. You have told them this yourself, so they know they’re unlikely to reach you during these hours. So imagine the look on your landlord’s face when they let themselves in during the day, while your visiting friend is at home.


What can you do?


If you’re on a short tenancy (i.e. if you’re a student or postgrad) then chances are the issue of other viewings or maintenance work (i.e. the landlord or others ‘popping by’) has been discussed. Typically 24 hours notice will be expected.


It goes without saying; if you’re at the mercy of a landlord or letting agency, notice periods should be something you’re noting in your contract and ready to mention if such a situation arises.  If it isn’t outlined, breach the issue and see if you can establish an ‘add-on’ style stipulation. It can be possible to input a conditional factor in your contract if the landlord promises to deliver a service or obligation before you move in.


Of course, in the case of essential maintenance, similar principles should be adhered to, the work may need doing, but strangers in your home is another matter entirely – make it clear you expect notice if you know work needs to be carried out.


You’re inconvenienced: Should you ask for compensation?


In our student house-share there were 6 of us and 2 bathrooms, so when our landlord told us he would be refurbishing one of the bathrooms, we hoped that the 3 week window he predicted would ring true.


5 weeks later and we were still living in a building site (complete with workmen who left small nails on the carpet).


What can you do?


Of course, unless you’re seriously inconvenienced, which will probably require legal assistance if your home becomes close to inhospitable*, then a little compensation to sweeten the deal is all down to the landlord – but, hey, if it isn’t a major problem requiring serious repercussions then it’s worth asking!


We sent a polite letter explaining how we had been inconvenienced with the building work over-running and could we have a small reduction on the rent to account for the fact ‘part’ of the house was out of use. We were each given a small reimbursement (around 15% off the monthly rent), which both parties thought was fair.


*For more information about your rights, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau offers helpful information. http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/housing_e.htm


During a viewing, I think something may have been stolen...


It’s painfully cynical to mistrust every set of viewers your landlord may bring to your home, but if something does just happen to go missing after a group has viewed your home, it can be hard to get any necessary evidence.


What can you do?


Unfortunately if something vanishes during a viewing they’re really isn’t anything the landlord can do, there’s simply no proof. You can however, make it clear to the landlord that this is an issue and request that they make current tenants aware of their belongings and monitor viewers at all times during the viewing.


Renting doesn’t have to be a minefield, and many tenant-landlord relationships work on a basis of mutual respect; look after the property and they’ll appreciate you as a tenant. But as young people struggle more and more with tenant-landlord etiquette, knowing your rights and being bold enough to ask for a little extra when you’re inconvenienced can be the difference between a professional relationship and a sour one. Of course if in doubt tenant testimonials can help you stay clear of any questionable landlords or letting agencies, so utilise reviews wherever you can.


 


Victoria is a blogger and social media manager and regularly writes about the Manchester property scene for Shepherd Gilmour Properties. Aside from city-living blogging, Victoria also focuses heavily on student property and tenant rights.


 


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