Approximately half of LJMU students live in student accommodation, below is some of the stuff you need to know if you live in student halls or private rented accommodation.
Right not to be charged fees
From June 2019 landlords and agents are no longer able to charge tenancy fees in England. They are not allowed to ask you to pay for the following:
a guarantor form
Having the property de-flead as a condition of allowing pets in the property
Requirements to have specific insurance providers
Fees that CAN still be charged include:
Damage caused to the property by the tenant
If the tenant loses their keys
Late payment of rent
A change to the tenancy requested by the tenant, with £50 being considered the norm in government guidance. Any charge above this would need to be backed up with written evidence.
Right to repairs
Both tenants and landlords have responsibilities when it comes to the maintenance of the property. These are usually detailed in the tenancy agreement.
All disrepair should be reported immediately to the landlord and we recommend that you do this via email so that there is a record of you reporting the problem. Any conversations should also be followed up with an email, so that if a dispute arises, a clear record of conversations can be seen and used as evidence.
It's also useful, where possible, for dated photographs to be taken of the disrepair or problem in the property.
If you or the other tenants have caused damage to the property always report it to the landlord. You may be given the option to organise and pay for the repairs yourself or the landlord may arrange the repair and charge the cost back to you.
Right to live in a property that is fit for habitation
Living in a student house doesn't mean you have to be living in disrepair. You should be aware that there are certain standards that your landlord has to maintain. Here are some hazards that can occur in your house. If you notice any of these or something similar, Healthy Homes (Liverpool City Council) can assist you in getting your landlord to improve the quality of your housing conditions.
Excess cold - Is your house warm enough? If your rooms fall below 16 degrees celsius then it's not warm enough and your home may need to be insulated
Damp and mould - Are there black markings on the walls? This could be a sign of damp and mould which can lead to various illnesses
Falling on the stairs - Carpet loose on the stairs and in need of repair? Falling on the stairs is one of the most common accidents
Falling on level surfaces - Uneven floors or loose wires can cause trips which can lead to serious injuries
Flames and hot surfaces - 12,000 people visit Accident & Emergency every year with burns and scalds
Right to have your deposit protected
Many private landlords and letting agents will ask you to pay a tenancy deposit. The tenancy deposit will often amount to around one month's worth of rent. It is important to be clear at the outset whether you are paying a tenancy deposit or rent in advance. This should be made clear in the tenancy agreement.
The landlord/letting agent must protect the deposit with an authorised scheme within 30 days of the deposit being paid to them. They must then supply you with the following information:
Amount of deposit
Address deposit relates to
Landlord contact details
Scheme name and contact details
Leaflet on how scheme works
What happens if either party cannot be contacted?
Details of when all/part of the deposit can be retained
If the landlord/agent fails to protect the deposit with one of the schemes or provide the deposit scheme details within 30 days of receiving the deposit, then you can apply to the county court for the deposit to be protected or returned to you. The court also has discretion to award you compensation of between 1 and 3 times the amount of the deposit.
Is your property licensed – if not, you may be entitled to claim back your rent
All properties that are rented privately in Liverpool must have a license. This is required to show that the property meets a decent standard and the landlord is a ‘fit and proper person’.
There are two types of license:
Mandatory HMO License – this covers all properties that are occupied by five or more tenants forming two or more unrelated households or groups (you are not all in the same family)
Selective License – this covers every other type of property (there are some limited exceptions such as University owned accommodation or living as a lodger in someone’s home)
If the property you are living in is not licensed then Liverpool City Council can prosecute your landlord/agent as this is a criminal offence. Furthermore if the prosecution is successful then the court can apply a rent repayment order which could mean any rent you paid whilst the property was unlicensed can be returned to you.
You can check if your property has a Mandatory or Selective License on the Liverpool City Council website.
If you believe the property you are living in is unlicensed you can advise Liverpool City Council at email@example.com
Pest control – your rights
You have a right to expect your property will be free from pests when your tenancy commences. When you move in check external walls to make sure there are no holes and external doors to make sure they are close fitting. If you identify any problems inform your landlord or letting agent immediately. The landlord should also provide you with an external waste receptacle to enable you to store rubbish between collections.
You should comply with the Local Authority’s requirements for the storage and collection of rubbish. You should also avoid leaving foodstuff around the property that may attract pests.
If you discover a pest infestation you should inform your landlord immediately. The landlord should then take steps to ensure that a treatment programme is carried out to eradicate the pest infestation.
A tenancy is a legally binding contract – make sure you are 100% sure before signing
A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between you and a landlord, although many agreements will also include the details of a managing agent as well. Once a contract has been signed, there are no guarantees you will be able to cancel the contract.
The tenancy agreement gives certain rights to both you and your landlord, for example, your right to occupy the accommodation and your landlord's right to receive rent for letting the accommodation. It lets you live in a property as long as you pay rent and follow the rules. It also sets out the legal terms and conditions of your tenancy.
We recommend that you get a written tenancy agreement from your landlord or agent and it should be signed by both you and your landlord. The landlord should provide you with a copy of the agreement.
Joint tenancy – what does it mean?
If you and your housemates are all listed on one tenancy agreement with a landlord, then you will have a joint tenancy, with the following implications:
Tenants are jointly and individually responsible for paying the rent and for any damage to the property
If a tenant does not pay their share or leaves, then the other tenants may be required to pay the outstanding rent amount and the landlord has the option of pursuing any of the tenants for the arrears
If a tenant wants to move out before the end of the contract, it is up to all tenants to find a replacement or they can agree to continue with the tenancy but cover the extra rent
If a replacement tenant is needed, all existing tenants must agree to the new tenant
In a joint contract, landlords cannot evict one tenant without evicting all of the others
If you have any problems paying your rent or continuing to live in a property, always talk to your landlord at the earliest opportunity
Bills included? Is there a cap? Is it fair? How do I monitor?
If your bills are included in the rent payment, you may want to check your contract to see if there is a cap or limit on your fuel consumption. If your consumption goes over this cap, you will be required to pay the extra cost.
It’s also best to get a copy of the bill, to check that the energy consumption is correct and based on actual meter readings and not estimated. If you have the cost of the bills included in your rent payment, the landlord will either keep the utility bills in their name and pay them on your behalf or request that the bills are put in the tenants’ names and the paper bills be passed to the landlord for payment.
Either way, it’s important that you keep track of how much fuel you are using. We recommend you take meter readings on a monthly basis. You may want to supply this information to the energy supplier and landlord, to ensure that the bills are not estimated. Energy providers usually over-estimate usage, so you could end up paying more than what you should. It is also important to check with the landlord/agent before the start of a tenancy whether there is a cap on utility bill usage, even if bills are fully inclusive.
Right to complain to landlord if you are not happy and to be treated professionally and with courtesy
You are a customer of the landlord and as such you have a right to complain if you are not satisfied with the service you are receiving. However you should do so with courtesy and engage with the landlord constructively.
You should ensure that your complaint relates to an issue that has previously been reported. The complaint should be in writing and clearly set out why you believe they have failed in their responsibilities. If the landlord or agent has one you should follow their complaints procedure. If your landlord or letting agent is registered with Liverpool Student Homes then you can escalate the complaint through the LSH Standards. If the property is managed by a letting agent you can escalate the complaint to the Redress Scheme.
At all times during the complaint process a normal and reasonable landlord and tenant relationship should continue.
Right to be safe and secure in your home.
The landlord must ensure all gas installations and appliances and electrical appliances supplied are in a safe condition. Smoke alarms should be fitted on each floor of the property and furniture should be compliant with fire safety legislation.
Doors and windows should be capable of being secured adequately to prevent access from intruders.
If the property is registered with Liverpool Student Homes it should benefit from a fire door leading from the kitchen, a fire blanket, window locks and restrictors and carbon monoxide detectors in the vicinity of gas appliances.
Where your landlord provides additional safety and security features please make sure you acquaint yourselves with them and use them properly. Lock your door even when you are in the property, do not wedge open fire doors, set the burglar alarm if you are all out.
How to get advice about your tenancy rights
For help with your tenancy rights you can go to Liverpool Student Homes (LSH), which is your University’s service for private student accommodation. The service is completely free for students and is owned and managed by the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool Hope University and LIPA.
Need advice? LSH offer:
The largest choice of accredited student properties
Free contract checking – get your tenancy agreement checked before your sign
Free housing rights advice service - if you are having problems with your landlord, property disrepair, getting your deposit back and more.
LSH, 5 Oxford Street, Liverpool L7 7HL (behind the Metropolitan Cathedral)
Tel: 0151 794 3296