Below are some common problems we hear our clients raise about privately rented housing. We’ve identified the best place to get help when dealing with each issue.
Be aware the information on this page applies to Assured Shorthold Tenants only. If you are in social housing or live with your landlord, call Citizens Advice instead.
Except in the case of eviction, you should only follow these steps after you have tried to resolve the problem with your landlord and given them a chance to put things right. This means writing to them to explain the situation and giving them a reasonable amount of time to respond. You should continue to pay your rent.
Before you make any complaint, you should also make sure it is your landlord’s responsibility to deal with the problem. You can check for yourself on Citizens Advice’s website: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/.
You might want to call Citizens Advice before you contact your landlord or any of the organisations below. We can make sure you are following the proper steps and point you in the right direction for further support.
Visit www.burnleypendleca.org.uk to find the best ways to contact us, or find the number for Adviceline at the bottom of this page.
“My landlord is trying to evict me without notice.”
Call Shelter on their local number if you’re at risk of eviction. You should call their national emergency number if you have nowhere to call home or have nowhere to sleep tonight. Shelter provide Legal Aid funded housing advice, which includes support with:
- Illegal eviction
- Landlord harassment
- Failure to properly protect your tenancy deposit
- Discrimination in housing
You should also contact your local council’s Housing Needs Department. They should investigate if your landlord harasses or tries to illegally evict you. They also have a duty to help you stay in your home or find you somewhere else to live if you are homeless or will become homeless within 8 weeks.
If you are already homeless you should make a homeless application to your local council.
Finally, if your landlord removes your belongings from the house, physically removes you from the house, or changes the locks, you should call the police. Landlord harassment and illegal eviction are criminal offences. Contact Shelter’s emergency number too, you may be able to get free legal advice.
For more information about your rights when you have received an eviction notice, read our previous post.
“My house isn’t safe to live in, there’s no hot water and the roof is leaking.”
In privately rented housing, it is the local council’s Environmental Health Department who are ultimately responsible for ensuring properties are up to the required standard. They should inspect any reports of unsafe housing or disrepair and can issue an Improvement Notice when standards are not being met.
“My landlord hasn’t carried out a gas safety check for years.”
Your landlord should provide a gas safety check every 12 months. Failure to do so puts lives at risk and the landlord may be prosecuted and fined or imprisoned for failing to carry out these checks. You should also receive a Gas Safety Certificate when you first move into the property and within 28 days of each check being carried out.
Gas Safety issues in private rented housing can be reported to the Health and Safety Executive. You can also report them to the Environmental Health Department at your local council.
“I’ve reported the problem to the council already, but they haven’t done anything about it.”
If you have been through the full complaints process, told the council about the problem, and the council has not dealt with the situation as they should, you may be able to report the issue to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
You could also get in touch with your local Member of Parliament. Politicians should be made aware of local problems and MPs represent your local area in Parliament.
“My landlord has increased my rent and I can’t afford to pay”
Contact Citizens Advice. We can check whether your landlord is allowed to do this, discuss the proper process they should follow, and help you challenge a rent increase if necessary.
If your rent has gone up, you may be able to get extra financial support through Universal Credit, Housing Benefit or Discretionary Housing Payments. We can carry out a benefit check to make sure you are receiving everything you are entitled to.
If you have already missed payments and are behind with your rent, you should speak to a debt adviser. The number for our free debt helpline is at the bottom of this page.
Still not sure what to do?
If you have any concerns or want further advice on a housing issue, speak to one of our advisers by calling 0800 144 8848.
We can talk through your options and help you deal with other aspects of your situation, such as rent arrears or making a Universal Credit claim. To speak directly to a debt adviser about rent arrears, you can call 0800 240 4420.
Disclaimer: This information was correct at the time of publishing on 13 January 2021 and is provided as a guide only. It is not a recommendation to take a specific action and we suggest you speak to an adviser if you have any doubt about how the law applies to you.