Landlords can be tricky customers and sometimes, thoroughly useless. Showers that don't work for months and kitchen's made entirely of damp once it has defeated the magnolia that was painted over the mould, 2 weeks before you moved in.
There's been something doing the rounds on Facebook about one particular landlord in Leeds called Simon Macbeth. An entire website has been set up to besmirch his name. If the anecdotes on the site are indeed true, then it sounds like a pretty sorry situation for a number of tenants.
We should point out, in case lawyers and litigious people are watching that this is only one side of the story.
However, there are problem landlords out there who completely steamroller their tenants and, with that, we'd like to offer some advice on how to avoid these situations and what your rights are.
According to the government, as a tenant, you have the right to "live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair", "live in the property undisturbed", "be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent" and "if you have a tenancy agreement, it should be fair and comply with the law."
In the case of the aforementioned website, tenants in this case are 'excluded occupiers', which means you live as a lodger in the property of the landlord. This means the rules are different. The contract you sign with this type of landlord won't be an AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy). This means you can be evicted with much less notice. It is advisable that, if you're becoming an excluded occupier, that you have a written agreement, which you read thoroughly and both sign. This is a licence, rather than the normal tenancy agreement. In it, you should set up the house rules in advance of moving in.
Legally, you don't have the right to exclude your landlord from the room you're renting, so if this is a problem, then be aware of this fact before agreeing to move-in with a live-in landlord. In fact, most rights favour a live-in landlord, so this is something to give great consideration to if you're agreeing to complete a move like this.
WHERE TO SEEK HELP WITH YOUR TENANCY RIGHTS
Shelter have a great tool on their website which will help you to establish your legal position with your tenancy. Click here to use the Shelter tenancy rights checker. You can also go through the government's private renting complaints procedure, which you can find more on here.
You can also complain about your landlord to the National Landlords Association and the Residential Landlords Association. There's also a government report on How To Rent which is worth familiarising yourself with if you suspect your landlord isn't great. If you're becoming a lodger, and your landlord won't provide a contract, then Shelter have a 'lodgers agreement' which you can use.
CHECK YOUR LANDLORD
If you're suspicious of your landlord or, indeed, want to run checks on anyone you're going to be paying rent to, then it is worth running some Google (other search engines are available) searches on them and using the valuable Rental Raters tool. Rental Raters is, in essence, a TripAdvisor-style site where you can look up reviews of landlords before moving in with them.