No property is perfect and therefore it is really important to know what to do if you find an issue. We also know that living in a shared house can be a new experience for many, which can prove problematic at times.
There is no clear definition of repair as the Courts interpret the meaning in several different ways. There is a distinction between repair, renewal and improvement. Whether you fix something like for like or if in order to fix an issue you have to make improvements. Ultimately though if something is broken in your accommodation you need to report it immediately so it can be repaired. Failure to report repairs can mean you don’t get all of your deposit back, or further damages may occur to the accommodation. Tenants are legally required to report repairs.
Under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, that landlords of most tenancies must keep the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house in repair, and keep the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating and heating water in good repair and proper working order. Failure to do so may constitute disrepair. A landlord’s action or inaction which results in injury or damage may constitute negligence. If the action or inaction causes offence annoyance trouble or injury then this may constitute nuisance. Negligence and nuisance are also forms of disrepair. Disrepair may also occur under section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972. When a landlord is obliged to repair and has permission to enter the property, the landlord has a duty of care to see that the tenants and visitors of that accommodation are safe from injury or damage as a result of ‘relevant defects’.
If you have an issue in your accommodation which you believe is covered under Section 11, then you need to report the issue to your Landlord immediately.
Reporting disrepair and repairs
As soon as you notice an issue you need to report the damages to the landlord/agent. This is best done in writing. Also, ensure you include pictures of the damage and dates of when it first started and what you have done to manage the issue (see above). We can provide you with a template letter to use.
If you have reported the issue and it is clear you are not causing the problem, e.g leaky roof, then the matter can be reported to the local councils Environmental Health Team and they can inspect the property. You will need to tell them that you have been following the tips above for at least a couple of weeks, that the issue persists and your landlord/agent isn’t taking any action, despite you submitting a written repairs request.
Preventing mould and damp
- Closing the kitchen door when cooking and if possible keep a window open. Use extractor fans where provided.
- Covering saucepans with saucepan lids when boiling food
- Keeping the door shut when having a bath/shower. Open a window/use extractor fan and keep the bathroom door shut when you have finished.
- Drying clothes outside or use a tumble dryer
- Try to keep heating on a low constant temperature, increasing the heat as and when required. This will eliminate the cold surfaces. This would not necessary increase your bills because a room is more expensive to heat from cold. Rooms should be between 18 Celsius and 21 Celsius
- Moving large items away from walls and radiators i.e. bed/wardrobe.
Bournemouth Council Condensation and Mould Growth leaflet is also very useful.
Housemate disputes are not uncommon and can often be quickly resolved by having a calm conversation, listening to each others point of view and finding a mutually agreeable way forward. If a housemate owes you money and refuses to pay, leaving you in financial hardship, or a housemate is bullying you, you can submit a complaint to BU. Our Advice Workers can guide you through this process.
We are here to provide you with practical advice and identify all the options available for you in seeking to resolve your issue. Whether this be accessing mediation via the Faith and Reflection Team in Talbot House or you seeking to terminate your housing contract and moving elsewhere. We're here to help.
Ending your contract
Fixed terms contracts cannot usually be broken without the agreement of the landlord and the tenant (surrender the tennacy) or if there is a breakclause in the contract. We can check your contract to see what your options are. In student lets it is common practise for tenants to find a 'replacment' tenant to take over your obligations (paying the rent). Unless you have written confirmaiton from your landlord that you are no longer liable for the rent, or a new tenant has signed a contract taking over your obligations, you will remain liable.
Noise Abatement Notice (NAN)
A Noise Abatement Notice can be issued at any time of day for consistent nuisance noise which constitutes a statutory nuisance. If someone makes a formal complaint you can be issued with a NAN by the local council under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. You can also be issued with a Warning Notice if the noise is above permitted levels between 11pm-7am. Failure to comply with a Warning Notice can result in being issued a Fixed Penalty Notice with a fine of up to £5000 and/or removal of the noise-making equipment. Failure to comply with a NAN can led to court action and, in some cases, a criminal record.If you have been issued with a NAN and you would like to appeal this with the local Council then you can seek advice from SUBU Advice.
BU can also invoke the BU Student Disciplinary: Procedure, which can result in disciplinary action such as a fine, written warning or unpaid services to the University to a maximum of 40 hours. If you would like to appeal any action taken by BU under the Student Disciplinary: Procedure then you can seek advice from SUBU Advice. Details on how to appeal are in the policy document.