If things aren’t ‘right’ in your student accommodation, whether privately rented or University accommodation, this can have a serious impact on how well you do at uni and how much you enjoy your time as a student. It’s important not to leave things to ‘sort themselves out’. Students' Union Advice Centre team offer the following tips should a problem arise:
I have a problem with my student accommodation, what should I do?
It's important to recognise the problem and seek a solution. If you can’t find the answer and want help finding the answer, contact the Students’ Union Advice Centre, based in The Hub (above), Coventry.
Is everything as you expect it to be at the start of the tenancy?
For furnished properties it’s an implied term of the tenancy agreement that the property must be ‘fit to be lived in’ on the day the letting begins. If the property is unfit, the landlord will be in breach of the tenancy agreement.
If you are moving into a furnished property and you consider it to be unfit, then contact the Students’ Union Advice Centre, as the earlier you say something the more rights you may have.
When you Move In
If your landlord gives you an inventory, it’s important that you check it for accuracy, and make sure it’s accurate before you sign it. This is important as the inventory is the record of the condition of the property when you move in and will be used to assess your liability for any damage that is recorded when you leave. This may affect how much of your deposit you get back.
Check that everything works. You don’t want to find out the heating system is broken in the middle of winter!
Actions to take if problems arise
If there are problems at the start or during your tenancy, don’t panic! Most likely the landlord will get everything sorted out, but to make sure you have evidence if it proves to be difficult to get things fixed, we recommend you follow these simple suggestions:
Report the problem in writing (this can be by e-mail) as soon as possible. A landlord is only responsible for repairs once they are aware of the problem or could reasonably be expected to have become aware of the problem.
Make a list, which identifies all the problems room by room, and give it to the landlord/agent as soon as possible.
Take photos of the problems and monitor what the landlord does about the repairs. If action is taken and everything is sorted out satisfactorily that should be the end of the problem.
If the landlord does not act and you feel you’re not making much progress, then you will need to step up the pressure.
What should you expect from your landlord?
They should arrange to come around on a date and time, convenient to you, to inspect the problems and arrange with you when workmen can come to the property to fix the problem (note anytime someone comes to do work on the property, they are responsible for leaving it in a safe condition and cleaning up after they have finished).
How quickly a landlord should respond depends on the seriousness of the problem. Defects which risk a danger to the health and safety of the tenants or serious damage to the building should be made safe as a matter of urgency. Other defects affecting the comfort or convenience of the tenants should be dealt with, within a few days, and anything else should be fixed as soon as is practicable, up to around 28 days.
Your responsibilities as a tenant
Not all damage is the responsibility of the landlord to repair. Landlords are not responsible for everything. As a Tenant you are likely to be responsible for:
Any damage caused by you or any visitors. Tenants should use the property in a responsible way; and under the Rent Act 1977, the Housing Act 1985 and the Housing Act 1988 the landlord can seek possession if the tenant or someone living with him has damaged the property. If it turns out that an element of disrepair is due to a tenant’s misuse of an appliance, then the landlord can seek compensation from the tenant in question – but only after putting right the disrepair.
Repairs to anything that is a part of the tenant’s responsibility to fix under use of the property in a "tenant-like manner" i.e. day-to-day repairs.