Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Student Advice and Support Service

Housing

Problems

However much you plan, things may still go wrong:

Resolving conflict with housemates

Sharing with housemates who may have different lifestyles, habits, customs and cultures is normally a positive experience, but problems can arise where there is a clash of lifestyles or differing standards.

What may begin as a small issue about hygiene, noise or cleaning can develop into a serious problem. It’s important to think about how to avoid issues arising in the first place and where they do arise, how to stop them escalating.

Here are some suggestions to minimise conflict:

  • Be considerate – respect your housemates’ space, food and property
  • Consider agreeing some house rules, for example: keep the noise down after 11.30pm, don’t leave your dishes in the sink, clean the bathroom after you’ve finished etc.
  • Agree to share any bills or other liabilities such as rent. We produce a ‘deed of indemnity’ form available on request that can be used by tenants to agree to an equal share of rent.
  • Draw up a rota for housework such as washing up
  • Deal with any issues early rather than allowing things to build up.
  • Talk face to face rather than via text message or group chat, as this can help to avoid misunderstanding or miscommunication.

If things cannot be resolved there are various sources of advice and support available on and off-campus.

The Student Advice and Support Service can advise on the rights and responsibilities of tenants, including where you or one of your housemates feel there is no alternative but to move out.

Other sources of guidance and support include:

University Community Wardens: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/community-wardens/contactus/

University Counselling Service: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/cds/wellbeing/counselling/

Citizens’ Advice Guidance on problems in shared accommodation: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/Migrated_Documents/adviceguide/h-problems-in-shared-accommodation.pdf

If a dispute between housemates escalates into violence or intimidation this is most likely to be in breach of the University’s code of discipline and the Loughborough Student Charter: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/community-wardens/behaviouranddiscipline/

If you have been the victim of assault or harassment or are fearful you will be, speak to the Police as soon as possible. In this situation, you may need emergency accommodation – contact Student Services for advice and support: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/internal/online-reporting/

Housemate leaves

If you have a joint tenancy and one or more of your housemates move out it’s generally in everyone’s interest to find suitable replacement tenants. If the landlord and all the joint tenants agree it should be possible to end the tenancy and make a new contract.

f there are no suitable replacements the landlord can normally ask any or all joint tenants to pay any shortfall in rent. This is because joint tenants are usually liable for each other’s rent. The landlord may also be able to pursue the tenants’ guarantors for any shortfall.

If rent is unpaid the landlord can make a deduction from the deposit and also take legal action to recover any outstanding financial loss.

If you have a separate contract for your own room in a shared house, you are not liable to pay any housemate’s rent if they fail to pay.

If you or one of your housemates wants to leave early get advice about your situation.

Disrepair

Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 gives landlords extensive obligations to carry out repairs.

Your landlord is responsible for repairs to the following:

  • The structure and exterior of the building, including walls, windows, window frames, ceilings, the roof, the floors, external gutters, external pipes, drains, and the front and back door.
  • Gas piping
  • Electric wiring
  • Sanitary installations, such as baths, basins, sinks and toilets.
  • Heating systems or appliances, such as the central heating system, the boiler, radiators and gas fires.
  • Water heating systems, such as boiler, immersion heater.

The landlord is responsible for repairs to the above and nothing in your tenancy agreement can alter this. For minor repair problems, such as replacing a fuse or lightbulb, the tenant is usually responsible (see section Rights and responsibilities of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy).

You should notify the landlord, preferably in writing, immediately a problem arises.

Tenants are not responsible for disrepair caused by fair wear and tear or lapse of time, or for damage caused by third parties other than their invited guests.

Any repair must be carried out within a reasonable period of time.

There are no set rules on what is a reasonable time. Certain repairs can be completed within 24 hours e.g. for burst pipes, damage caused by a break-in that has left the building unsecured, etc. For less urgent repairs a longer period may be reasonable.

Repairs to electrical appliances

If the landlord provides any appliances, such as fridges, freezers, washing machines, TVs, toasters, burglar alarms, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, etc. they are most likely responsible for maintaining and repairing these. If you are in any doubt, please seek advice.

Getting repairs done

If your landlord has refused to carry out repairs or has disputed responsibility or has already taken more than a reasonable amount of time to do the work you can take action. If you intend to take action it is advisable to adopt the step-by-step approach outlined below:

Step 1

Before tackling your landlord an important point to consider is whether s/he might be able to evict you from the property. If you have a fixed-term agreement your landlord will not be able to make you leave before the fixed-term expires, unless s/he obtains a court order on one of the limited grounds available – such as rent arrears or breach of contract, etc.

If you do not have a fixed-term agreement but instead have agreed simply to pay rent each week or each month on an ongoing basis, your landlord might be able to give you two months’ notice. If you are in any doubt about your right to stay in your accommodation, please seek advice from the Student Advice and Support Service.

Step 2

If you want to take action you should contact your landlord/letting agent immediately. If this is by telephone or in person you should follow this up in writing, as it is very important to have a written record of your request, giving full details of the disrepair in question.

You should also collect as much evidence as you can, such as photographs.

Step 3

If the landlord does not respond or disputes responsibility for the repairs or fails to carry out repairs within a reasonable period of time you should consider your options.

The appropriate option may be to:

Contact Environmental Health Officers at the local Council

They can inspect your accommodation and require your landlord to carry out repairs. If you request an inspection by Environmental Health Officers you should make a written note of all the problems and keep a copy for yourself. Make sure you get the name of the Officer who calls and ask to be kept informed of any developments. If you are concerned that your landlord may retaliate in any way you can ask the Officers to explain to the landlord that their action follows a routine inspection.

You can contact the local Environmental Health Officers. For Charnwood Borough Council telephone: (01509) 634 937

Take court action to get the repairs done.

You can apply to the court for an order requiring the landlord to do the work. Your application to the court could also include a claim for compensation. If you are considering this option you should seek advice.

Use the rent to pay for repairs.

There is no legal right to withold rent but you do have the right to carry out the repairs and recover the costs by deduction from future rent payments provided you follow the process below.

You would need to show that the landlord was responsible for the repairs, that they have failed to carry them out and that your expenditure on the repairs was not extravagant.

You would also be advised to strictly follow a series of steps:

  • Notify the landlord in writing that you intend to use the rent to pay for the repairs unless they resolve the problem within a further, reasonable period. If this does not work, then:
  • Obtain three estimates from reputable contractors of the costs of the repairs and send copies to the landlord with a ‘final warning’. If this does not work, then:
  • Employ (and pay) the cheapest contractor to carry out the repairs and send a copy of the invoice to the landlord with a request that s/he reimburse you your costs. If this does not work, then:
  • Recoup the costs by deduction from future rent.

Harassment

If your landlord, or anyone acting on their behalf, acts in a way which interferes with your enjoyment of your property, this could be defined as harassment. Harassment could also include intimidation, causing distress, encouraging you to leave, or forgo your rights.

Examples of harassment:

  • pressurising you to sign an agreement that reduces your legal rights
  • not carrying out essential repair work with the intention of forcing you to move out
  • interfering with or cutting off services such as hot water, heating, gas and/or electricity
  • visiting your home regularly without warning, or good cause
  • using threatening behaviour or being physically violent.

If you believe you are being harassed in this way, you should contact Student Advice and Support Service for advice.

Harassment is a criminal offence and there will be other agencies such as the Police or the Council who can assist you with this issue.

Illegal eviction

If your landlord wants you to leave their property, the correct legal procedure must be followed. See section ‘Ending your tenancy’.

Being forced to leave your home without following the correct legal process will constitute an illegal eviction.

Examples of illegal eviction include:

  • changing the locks while you are out; or
  • stopping you from getting into your home or part of it; or
  • the landlord uses force or intimidation to make your leave.

If you are in danger of eviction by your landlord then contact the Student Advice and Support Service for advice.

Illegal eviction is a criminal offence and there will be other agencies such as the Police or the Council who can assist you with this issue.

Rent arrears

If you are unable to pay your rent you could be vulnerable to late rent charges and possible eviction.

Make an appointment with the Student Advice and Support Service as soon as possible. We may be able to help address the reason that you are unable to pay e.g. student finance delays or a change in circumstances.

Anti-social behaviour

Any neighbourhood can have occasional problems with antisocial behaviour (ASB). ASB is acting in a way that causes or is likely to cause harassment, harm or distress to individuals, communities or the environment.

Examples of anti-social behaviour include:

  • intimidating groups, taking over public spaces
  • vandalism, property damage, graffiti and flyposting
  • people dealing and buying drugs on the street
  • people dumping rubbish and abandoning cars
  • anti-social drinking.

If you think you have been a victim of antisocial behaviour, then you can report it to the local police by calling 101, or if it relates to other students by contacting Loughborough University Security on 01509 222141.

If you or your housemates are accused of anti-social behaviour it is important to take the matter seriously. It’s potentially a criminal offence which could lead to eviction and the university could take disciplinary action.

You can also read about how to deal with problems that may arise in the following extract from our “Guide to living off campus” (click on the image below).