Within Selly Oak there are four different areas covering what rights you have and are entitled to within your home these are:
- Your basic legal rights
- Additional rights also included in your tenancy agreement (assuming that you, like the majority of students have an assured shorthold tenancy)
- Whether your property is a licensed House in Multiple Occupation (larger properties with 5 or more bedrooms over 3 or more storeys, including basements and lofts)
- Whether your property is owned or managed by an accredited landlord or letting agent (Midland Landlord Accreditation Scheme) who also must keep to a code of conduct
Your rights, in brief:
- By law you are entitled to a written agreement, which outlines the amount of rent to be paid, length of tenancy and notice dates for example.
- The landlord must also provide written contact details, including address for them or their agent
Rent and deposit
- The amount of rent you pay, when and for how long should be detailed in your tenancy agreement
- The deposit you pay must by law be protected in one of the three government authorised tenancy deposit schemes. You are entitled to a copy of the certificate to show where your deposit has been paid.
- Deductions from your deposit can be made for damage caused to the property or items included within the tenancy agreement (excluding normal wear and tear), cleaning costs, key replacement and outstanding rent. Disputes with your landlord can be settled via the tenancy deposit scheme your deposit is being held.
Right to privacy/landlord or agent access to your home
- Your landlord or agent cannot just drop in as and when they wish or carry out repairs on the property without making prior arrangements with you. However you need to be flexible and be prepared to allow them to enter the property for repairs, maintenance or showing prospective tenants round at a reasonable time when at least 24 hours notice is given.
Repairs and maintenance
Your landlord or agent is not responsible for undertaking improvements to your home, unless they have been agreed and added to your tenancy agreement
- Improvements which you wish to make such as adding or changing internal locks, for example, should be checked with your landlord or agent
- Tenants are responsible for day to day maintenance issues, such as changing light bulbs or unblocking sinks
- Your landlord or agent is responsible for undertaking repairs as defined within your tenancy agreement and/or where the issue poses a health and safety risk to tenants, as defined under the Housing Health & Safety Rating System
- Exterior repairs your landlord is responsible for include guttering, walls, roof, drains, windows and doors
- Interior repairs your landlord is responsible for include hot water, gas, electricity, water, ventilation, heating, basins, baths, toilets, sinks and toilets.
- Where is a risk to your health or safety the repair should be addressed within 24 hours and completed within 3 days
- Where the repair is minor then you should expect it to be done within 14 days
- Your front and back gardens should be clear of rubbish before you start your tenancy
Gas, electric, water and fire
- Gas – your landlord must ensure that gas appliances and flues are in good order and have been safety checked within the last 12 months by a Gas Safe Registered contractors. You are entitled to see the gas safety certificate. Any repairs made must also be completed by a CORGI registered engineer.
- Electric – your landlord has a general duty to ensure that the electrics are safe and suitable for use, as per the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS). It is not mandatory to have safety certificate but repairs and maintenance must be done by a “suitably qualified person”
- Water – As per electrics, your landlord or agent is required to undertake a repair where there is a risk to your health and safety.
- Fire – if you live in a house with 5 or more occupants and 3 or more storeys the landlord is required to provide a fire safety blanket and functioning fire alarms. For houses smaller than this it is dependant on what is listed in the tenancy agreement.
More detailed information, advice and guidance can be found via the Guild of Students Advice & Resource Centre (ARC) and Community Wardens.
What to do if your tenancy rights are being breached?
The Guild of Students ARC and Community Wardens services can provide you with advice, guidance and support to ensure that your landlord or agent undertakes their duties in keeping with the tenancy agreement and law. Where required Birmingham City Council can prosecute where issues remain unresolved. There is plenty of support available so don’t be afraid to ask.
To make a complaint
When problems arise, keep a written record with dates. Make attempts to discuss the problems with your landlord or agent and if they fail to respond put your concerns in writing to them explaining the problem(s) clearly, what you want to happen and by when. All letters to the landlord or agent should be dated, signed by all tenants (where applicable), posted by recorded delivery and a copy should be kept for your own records. If your issue remains unresolved you should contact the Guild of Students:
- Community Wardens – for a home visit, advice and useful contacts
- Advice and Resource Centre (ARC) – for on-line service, drop-in surgeries and one to one appointments
Enforcement and prosecution
If the Guild’s input and advice still does not resolve the issue, they will be able to help support you through the enforcement of the regulations and legal requirements your landlord or agent is required to abide to.
Birmingham City Council are the Local Authority who can take enforcement and prosecution action. You can find information about what they do, as well as frequently asked questions via the Private Housing section.
- Private Rented Team – They offer specialist advice on private renting and resolving disputes, deal with illegal eviction and harassment, and can prosecute landlords. They deal with safety, repairs and any problems with the condition and maintenance of your private rented home.
Through these teams BCC also undertakes a programme of inspection of licensed HMO’s and will inspect all HMO’s including those that aren’t licensable in response to complaints about the property, particularly relating to repairs and maintenance. If landlords or agents fail to comply with subsequent notices then they will be prosecuted.