Tips on handling common landlord disputes (part 2)
Following up on our recent post on tenant rights are some tips on handling common landlord-tenant disputes:
In general, the best way to protect yourself is by having copies of any written correspondence you have with your landlord. This includes written notice that something needs repairing. If your landlord has been notified in writing and has not acted, you can go to court to force his hand, but only if you've made the request in writing.
If you feel like you are the victim of an unfair landlord, there are specific legal steps you can take. If your landlord refuses repairs and you have to pay for them yourself, you are entitled to take the cost of those repairs out of your rent, but you need to follow a prescribed procedure to protect yourself legally.
If you believe that your landlord is unfairly keeping part of your deposit when your tenancy is over, there are several steps you need to take, and they differ depending on whether you paid the deposit before or after 6 April 2007. If the landlord refuses and the case is decided by the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service (available to all landlords and tenants where the deposit is in a Tenency Deposit Scheme) once the ADR makes a decision, it is legally binding, and neither tenant nor landlord can take the case to the courts. If, however, either tenant or landlord refuses to use the ADR service, then the case must be resolved in the courts.
Your landlord can only increase your rent after the initial fixed term of tenancy and provided that the tenancy agreement has guidelines written into it about a rent increase. If there is no such language in the agreement, the landlord is required to issue the tenant with a Section 13 notice stating the specifics of the rent increase. If you refuse to go along with any properly documented rent increase after the fixed term is up, your landlord may evict you.
If you find out that your landlord is in foreclosure, do not stop paying the rent, but do visit your solicitor or the CAB as soon as possible to find out what your specific rights are. It will depend on whether the mortgage was taken out before or after your tenancy began.