Lots of people in SE16 are living in a property owned by their private landlord. That means that – not being the tenant of a housing association or the Council – you have rights that need to be respected.
This is a simple one: if your tenancy started after 6 April 2007, the landlord has to use a tenancy deposit scheme (TDP). There are three that are backed by the government: Deposit Protection Service, My Deposits and Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Your landlord is not allowed to spend your deposit. Within 30 days of signing the tenancy agreement, your landlord has to confirm which deposit scheme they’ve used, the situations under which they might keep some of the deposit, how to apply for your deposit back at the end of a tenancy and what to do in the event of a dispute.
This should also be a simple one, but too many landlords can’t be bothered to spend money to make sure you live somewhere that doesn’t leak, isn’t a fire hazard, make you ill or leave you to freeze.Your landlord is legally responsible for repairs to:
- the structure and exterior (so: roof, walls, windows, etc)
- baths, sinks, toilets, pipes and drains
- heating and hot water (so: the boiler)
- gas appliances, pipes and ventilation
- electrics and wiring
- any damage caused from landlord-approved repairs. If you attempt a repair and bodge it, that’s your responsibility.
Your contract may list other things that your landlord is responsible for maintaining, but the above is the basic minimum. If there’s an emergency then you’re perfectly within your rights to call the water board or gas supplier, but let your landlord know as well. For non-urgent repairs, Shelter has a good guide to the process to follow and some sample letters to use if your landlord isn’t doing anything.
If you’ve had enough and the problems are causing damage to your health, Southwark’s environmental health department (020 7525 2000) can do an assessment and may serve legal notice on your landlord. If that doesn’t work, the council can do the work itself and bill your landlord, or fine them up to £5,000.
For more on your rights as a renter, see Renting: Know Your Rights from the excellent Rachel Holdsworth at Londonist
You can also use Southwark Citizens Advice Service at 8 Market Place, Southwark Park Road, SE16 3UQ (Drop-in: Tuesday and Thursday 10:00-13:00); Advice line: 0844 499 4134 and Email advice from the website www.southwarkcabservice.org.uk or get advice online from Shelter.