How To Deal With A Bad Landlord
We've all heard horror stories about bad landlords. The sort of person who simply takes your 'deposit' as a one-way payment, and never returns it when you move out, even though everything is in perfect order. Or the sort who ignores all your requests for urgent fixes to broken equipment, and so forth.
Therefore it is important to state at the outset that in the majority of cases, you can get on perfectly well with your landlord, and for many their landlord is pretty invisible during their stay in the property, just interceding where absolutely necessary to arrange for something to get fixed, or similar.
With that reality check in place, what do you do if you have issues with your landlord and aren't satisfied with their attitude or response time or their ability (or lack of) to deal with important issues that you raise?
The most common complaint is a landlord who doesn't have any interest in fixing problems you raise - whether it be a leaking toilet, broken heating or something else.
Well, it is important to know what rights you have, so you need to categorise what your complaint is: the landlord is obligated to fix anything essential for your health and safety: this includes heating, electrical, water issues, mould / bugs / roofing.
Be sure to send a request in writing to the landlord as well as any other form of communication you use, so you can prove the contact. You may want to consider sending it recorded delivery so you can prove receipt.
You should be organised and keep a log of all issues you've had, when you raised them, and what response you had - if any. Take and print timestamped photos of problems. If you get no response, then there are various recourses to action that you have.
For instance, you could take legal action against the landlord in the small claims court, or you could alert health and building inspectors to the problem. However, many do not recommend that you withhold rent as is often the temptation, as this can lead to eviction, so you would need to get legal advice before breaking the terms of your lease agreement to ensure you could prove your case.
Ultimately if you are not getting anywhere, then you may choose simply to offer your notice and get out as soon as you can - or in extreme cases move elsewhere whilst you take the necessary legal action.
This is just a very quick overview of dealing with a bad landlord, as for a full overview you will need to read all the legislation about what the obligations of a landlord are. If you are interested in this, you should look up the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and read through the statutory obligations of your landlord.
The bottom line is that you should log any problems, both in writing and with dated photos, and that you should send official communications to the landlord through the post if you are not hearing back in a reasonable timescale and nothing is being done. Then you can escalate through the official channels if you are raising significant problems (such as health-affecting ones) that are not being dealt with. Ultimately you may wish to get legal advice as to how to proceed.Last update: 29 Mar 2015
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