Housing Issues

Occasionally issues may occur with your property. These could either be caused by issues around maintenance or issues of a large scale, such as disrepair. Please note this advice applies to students living in the private sector and not University owned accommodation or private halls.  For University owned accommodation or private halls maintenance issues contact your site receptions.

Maintenance & repairs

If you haven’t already, it is important to check whether your property is managed or let only.

When you rent a property through an agency, there are two types of lets, managed and let only.  If your property is managed by an agency, then the landlord has employed that agency to manage and maintain the property on their behalf.  Contact is therefore through the agency and any issues, problems or concerns should be reported directly to them as soon as they occur. 

Ensure that everyone in your property has the agency contact details and are aware of what the procedures are for out of hours problems. Please write your emergency landlord/agent details down and store safely so you can find them easily if you have a problem. 

If your property is on a let only basis, then your landlord is the main contact.  Their full contact details should be on the front page of your tenancy agreement. Make sure you keep these details to hand and that you know what to do should you if you have a problem and are unable to get hold of them, if they are away, or if you need them during unsocial hours.

 

Reporting maintenance issues and disrepair

You should first make a formal request in writing as soon as possible requesting the repair to be done. You should clearly indicate what the nature of the problem is and request that the repair be carried out within a reasonable time period. There are no set time limits as to when repairs should be carried out. The length of time you should allow depends on the type of repair. If the problem is urgent, such as sanitation or a health & safety risk, then it is reasonable to request that the repair be carried out within 1-3 days. If however it were a minor problem, then anything up to 14 days would be a reasonable timescale.

Keep a log, including dates and details of when issues are reportedIf your landlord/agent agrees to do the repairs, then you should try to agree a date and time for the work to be done. If your landlord requires access to the property then they should provide at least 24 hours written notice before entering

If the repair undertaken makes the property uninhabitable for tenants, then it is reasonable to request your landlord to provide alternative accommodation or compensation for that period.

 

Making a complaint

If your landlord fails to respond to your letter then you should write to them again. You should remind them both of their legal and contractual obligations and request the repair is carried out within a stated period. If following a second letter you still do not get a response (and you have checked that it has been delivered), then you should get advice from Guild Advice or your local Citizens Advice Bureau/Law Centre who may be able to negotiate on your behalf and inform you of your options.

You should also begin to collect evidence of the disrepair, such as photographs, medical reports (if your health is affected) and receipts of costs incurred (e.g. cleaning).

Community Wardens work with Guild Advice in visiting properties in a state of despair. If you feel you require a visit then contact us.

 

Utility maintenance queries

Electricity

Has your electric gone off?

Unplug all of your electrical appliances and reset the fuse box (this is usually located near the front of the house, usually in a box).

If any electrical appliance or wiring appears to be faulty, make sure you report it immediately and discontinue use.  All work must be carried out by a qualified electrician and this should be organised by your landlord/agent.

It is your responsibility to change light bulbs as they are a consumable item.  Before doing so please switch off the electric at the mains.

Ensure all electrical items supplied with the house; for instance, a TV, these should have been tested by a suitably qualified person.

Check the electrical test certificate for the house.

 
Water

Do you have a leak?

In the event of a leak, inform your landlord/agent straight away.  Don’t let the issue get out of hand, because this could cause extensive damage to the property. 

To reduce damage, please follow these steps:

  • Leak from a pipe or tap: turn of your water at the stop tap (this is usually found under the kitchen sink or under the stairs)

  • Make sure there are no gaps around the bath or shower where water could leak – if there are, make a request to the landlord/agent that these be resealed to prevent problems arising.

  • If there is a leak from a ceiling, which is coming from the bathroom above, it is advisable to stop using the bathroom.  Don’t switch on the light in the ceiling and catch any water in buckets until someone comes to fix the leak.

  • If there is a leak from the washing machine, turn the machine off. 

 
Gas safety

Your landlord must supply you with a Gas Safety Certificate to ensure all the gas appliances are safe – if you haven’t done already, you must demand to see it.

ALL Gas Engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register.  The Gas Safe Advice Line is 0800 300 363

You can check whether an Engineer is registered online at www.gassaferegister.co.uk

Do you smell gas?

  • In an emergency, if you suspect a leak or smell gas, please call National Grid on 0800 111 999.

  • If you use gas hobs, then please make sure these are switched off.

  • Switch off the gas at the meter.

  • Do not turn on any electrical switches, to avoid creating a spark.

 

Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing

If you live in a shared house of five or more unrelated individuals, living over threefloors and sharing facilities, then this house is classed as a ‘property more at risk’. The landlord has extra legal responsibilities to fulfil, including applying for a licence from the City Council to ensure the safety of occupants.  If this applies to you, and you haven’t seen a copy of the licence already, please contact your landlord. Alternatively we can check this for you – please contact us. To read more about HMOs, click here

 

Deposits– Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Is your deposit safe?

Upon signing your contract, you would probably have paid a deposit.  A deposit is paid to the Landlord or agent to provide them with security against any damage you may cause in the property or rent arrears during your tenancy.

The landlord/letting agent must protect your deposit by paying it into one of three government authorised tenancy deposit schemes.  This will ensure that you get your deposit back when you are entitled to it and that any disputes which do arise about the deposit, are easier to resolve.

Within 30 days of paying your deposit, your landlord or agent should have provided you with details of how they will be protecting your deposit, including:

  • A certificate, with contact details of the relevant TDS and landlord/letting agent as proof that your money has been paid into one of the schemes

  • Information on how to apply for release of the deposit

  • The purpose of the deposit and what to do if there is a dispute

  • If you are not provided with this information, then you should contact your landlord/agent in writing requesting it.

  • If you do not receive confirmation of where your deposit has been paid into, please seek advice from the ARC.

Vermin and pests

Rats, mice, cockroaches and bed bugs are very occasional and very unwelcome visitors. Advice is available via Birmingham City CouncilThis also includes an on-line reporting form.