There are many benefits of living in rented accommodation—from the flexibility you get to not having to pay for maintenance and repair bills. But sadly there are downsides too. Difficult landlords are, unfortunately, something that many renters come across.
If you’re having trouble with a difficult landlord—whether they’re not making essential repairs or they’re letting themselves into your home without your permission—there are things you can do.
Here’s how to deal with a difficult landlord.
Know your rights
As a tenant in a rented property in the UK, you have rights. And it’s important to be aware of them in case any disputes ever arise. Firstly, you have the right to live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair. It is the landlord’s responsibility to provide this.
Secondly, your deposit should be protected by a government-backed Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). By law, your landlord is also unable to unfairly evict you and they must provide energy performance certificates for the property on request. The Government website has a handy guide to your rights and responsibilities. Familiarise yourself with them so that you know what you’re entitled to.
Make a formal complaint
If you need to complain about your landlord, speak to them first. Valid reasons for complaining include them not carrying out essential repairs, entering your property without your permission or discriminating against you based on your age, sex, race or nationality. For more details on your rights, scroll back up to the section above.
Before approaching your landlord, it can be helpful to note down everything you want to say in advance. It can also be useful to ask a friend or family member for support. The next step would be to make a formal complaint by writing a letter to your landlord. The letter should include evidence like photographs and details of any conversations you’ve had.
Complain to your local council
This step can be taken only when you have tried to talk to your landlord and written a formal complaint to no avail. If your landlord is still not solving the issue, you have the right to complain to your local council.
You can complain by writing a letter to your council and including the formal complaint you’ve sent to your landlord. Please note that councils can only help with issues of harassment, illegal evictions, dishonest or unfair trading behaviour and unfixed repairs that are dangerous to your health and wellbeing.
You can find more advice on these steps by reading this Citizens Advice guide.
Keep a log
If you’ve written a formal complaint to your landlord and council, remember to keep a record of all your correspondence. Make sure that any requests, agreements or concerns are documented in writing or via email. And if any maintenance has been carried out, keep a note of what’s been done and what hasn’t been done.
Don’t forget to take photographs too and keep a log of the time and date. This can be particularly useful if a problem is getting worse over time. We also recommend taking photographs when you move into a property. Although we appreciate it might be a little late in the day for that…
Stay calm and composed
Dealing with a difficult landlord can be frustrating—especially if you’ve tried to contact him or her dozens of times—but try to keep a cool head. And don’t act in haste. The last thing you want to do is to cause more friction or damage your relationship for good.
Instead, give your landlord the benefit of the doubt at first. Maybe they’re on holiday or going through a difficult time. If, however, you’ve given them plenty of chances, then you can go ahead and take the next steps. But if you stay calm and collected throughout it all and keep up your end of the bargain, you’ll have a much better defence as time goes on.
Thinking of moving? Here are 5 quick tips for your next property
If you’re thinking of moving house to escape your difficult landlord, there are things you can do to prevent yourself from getting into the same situation again. These include:
- Renting through a trusted letting agency—Professional letting agencies often act on a landlord’s behalf. They can be more reliable and easier to deal with as they’re more familiar with property and tenancy rules and regulations.
- Taking photographs on the day you move in—Doing so can save you a lot of hassle if your landlord ever unfairly claims you’ve caused any damage to the property. It’s also worth taking photographs of any damp, mould or leak issues to document their progression.
- Pick your battles—Don’t complain about anything and everything for the sake of it. Your landlord may tune you out. If it’s just a minor issue and you can easily fix it yourself, do so. You’ll be thankful if there comes a time when you really need to make a complaint.
- Be a good tenant—Always keep up your end of the bargain. Make sure you pay your rent on time and act appropriately by keeping the place clean and not disturbing your neighbours.
- Communicate clearly—Always put any correspondence with your landlord in a text, email or letter. That way you’ve got a record of all conversations should you ever need to refer to them as evidence.
We hope you don’t ever have to deal with a difficult landlord. But if you find yourself in that situation, remember that there are things you can do. Good luck!