Student renters are being urged to take advantageof a free legal service launched to protect tenants from rip-offs landlords after they were forced to repay more than £50,000 of rent from homes described as “uninhabitable” and “hazardous to health” and let by “threatening” landlords.
Tribunal decisions leading to Rent Repayment Orders against rogue landlords and letting agents published in the last month show a worrying snapshot of conditions within the private rented sector many of these houses are student accommodation.
- Ilford, £24,414 of rent repaid
Tenants were repaid almost £25,000 of rent on a house in Gants Hill described as “uninhabitable”
A fire in the building was found to becaused by a defective boiler, and the house was not properly equipped with smoke alarms. Gas and electricity supplies were shut off due to being unsafe – forcing the tenants to move out for a month.
The tenant told the tribunal that a gas engineer paid for by “did not meet modern safety standards” and that “sparks were visible when the boiler operated”
The landlord hadnot provided the tenants with a gas safety certificate or a electrical installation condition report. The house was also unlicensed in a selective licensing area.
- Bristol, £17,500 of rent repaid
Six Bristol students were repaid £17,500 of rent after their property was found to be an unlicensed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), described by the tribunal as “a fair reflection of the seriousness (their landlord’s) offending”
The Tribunal concluded that the landlord “knew that the property required licensing as an HMO (and) thwarted the efforts of the managing agent to apply for a licence….these are matters that aggravated the seriousness of the offending”
Landlord forced to repay rent to tenants
- Fareham, £2659 of rent repaid
A repayment order was passed after a landlord failed to respond to an Improvement Notice under legislation such as the Housing Act 2004.and the Housing and Planning Act 2016 due to “defects to the property which are hazardous to health”
These include “penetrating damp to the ceiling of the communal hallway, a bedroom and the “second lobby”.
Tenants also alleged that “mould and mushrooms” were growing in the kitchen – but failed to provide evidence.
Further complaints were reported to a representative of the landlord “whose reaction was to laugh”
- Coventry, £2800 of rent repaid
A tribunal found a landlord’s behaviour toward a renter in a house let to students be “intimidating and directly threatening” and “of the highest order of seriousness”
- East London, £2500 of rent repaid
The Tribunal found a landlord guilty of “a lack of care for the safety and wellbeing of the tenants and of compliance with the obligations on a landlord” with allegations including both damp, leaks from a lavatory pipe and a rodent infestation.
The case publications come following the launch of a new free service called Very Wise Student which helps to protect students from renting rip-offs.
Student renters get legal help
Very Wise Student founder Ajay Jagota said:
“These cases are horrifying. What is more horrifying it that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
“Many of these cases relate to student accommodation which makes up a significant proportion of HMOs. Rogue landlords and letting agents sadly see students as a soft touch as unlike other renters they tend to have little knowledge of their rights – such as Rent RepaymentOrders – and little resources are available to provide them with access to justice, when they do.
“At Very Wise Student we help all tenants get access to justice, so whatever the issue is with your rented student house we resolve the issue directly with your landlord / agent”
Very Wise Student also offers a free Student Accommodation Safety check of a rental property’s where they check the gas, fireand electricity safety compliance.
Very Wise Student offers students a free legal advice help line offering advice on:
- Boiler problems
- Tenancy Agreement disputes
- Deposit issues
- Rodent and pest infestations
- Revenge issues
- Rent rises
- Landlord visits
The service also offers tax advice, including student loans, part time work and Council Tax.
All calls are handled by qualified solicitors with at least 5 years of post-qualification experience
A free counselling helpline also offers students support with academic pressures, personal problems and money worries.
More information is available at Verywisestudent.io
Very Wise Student has been launched by online claims management firm Veriwise, in partnership with legal insurance firm ARAG.
Notes to Editors
Operating in the UK since 2006, ARAG plc provides a comprehensive suite of ‘before-the-event’ and ‘after-the-event’ legal expenses insurance products and assistance solutions to protect both businesses and individuals.
ARAG plc is part of the global ARAG Group, the largest family-owned enterprise in the German insurance industry. Founded in 1935, on the principle that every citizen should be able to assert their legal rights, ARAG now employs more than 4,700 people in 19 countries around the world and generates revenue and premium income totaling more than €2 billion.
Very Wise Student sister company Veriwise can take on housing disrepair claims, deposit disputes and illegal eviction claims on behalf of students should there be any issues. Students can claim compensation from landlords or agents if there is a valid claim which is presented to legal counsel who can take the case to court to ensure the landlord complies and pays any compensation. Veriwise is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.