Dealing with an unresponsive landlord is a problem faced by many students and can be extremely stressful and very unnecessary with exams and deadlines fast approaching. My landlord this year has been insensitive at best, and the ongoing problems that my seven housemates and I have experienced have led us to take legal action against him. Hopefully, your landlord will be better at managing your problems, but there are many avenues to go down if this is not the case.
Firstly, it is always important to understand the terms of the contract that you and your landlord signed when you signed for the house. Make sure you have a copy of the contract handy and check it to see if your landlord is breaking any of the clauses that you both agreed to; if they are, this could be grounds to take legal action. In most housing contracts, the landlords have a plethora of responsibilities to uphold, and if you have issues with yours, you may be surprised as to how many clauses in the contract they are breaking.
The first step to take would be to contact your letting agency straight away. If you are having problems with your landlord, they will want to be informed, as the agency will push them to deal with your issues more quickly, and may even stop representing them. This works particularly for agencies that represent private landlords. If you complain to the company themselves, they have vested interest to uphold a good service, and will most likely push for your issues to be solved.
Another avenue to be explored is the services provided by Cardiff Council. Housing Enforcement and Environmental Health can be contacted if there are any issues that put you or your housemates at risk. My house had a rat infestation, as well as it not being fire-safe. When we contacted Environmental Health and Housing Enforcement, they deemed our house unhygienic and unsafe, giving our landlord a deadline to sort these issues by. Problems that make you feel unsafe in your house are of highest priority and should be dealt with straight away.
I would suggest to all students having housing problems to go to Student Advice in the Students’ Union. Whether the issues are imminent or not, there will be someone there to help you regardless. We were helped massively by their dedicated housing officers, who suggested we take legal action and demand half of our rent back. Even if your issues don’t require legal advice or action, Student Advice is a great avenue to explore with any housing queries you may have.
Lastly, it is important to be honest and open with students viewing your house to live there in the future. It is likely that if you explain to them the fact that your landlord has been so bad, they will be put off buying the house, and your landlord will have great difficulty selling the house on until they sort your problems out. Personally, I wish the people that lived in our house last year informed us of the quality of our landlord, we would definitely have saved a lot of stress if we knew how bad he is.
There are loads of avenues to explore when dealing with bad landlords, and it is important to remember that you are not alone in dealing with these issues. Scores of students have problems with their landlords every year, so there are organisations (like Student Advice and the Council)that will help you, and have your interests in mind.