Why over 800 Renters in Oxford Complained about Their Landlords

Last year saw many UK tenants face problems with their rented homes, with landlord complaints in 2020 totalling 869. The most common reasons for complaints were disrepair in home issues, unlicensed multiple occupancies, and poor living conditions. Additionally, there were also 184 threatened evictions and 139 tenancy advice grievances. 

Although some Oxford renters have gotten used to the mold in their home, and about a fifth of the privately rented flats have safety hazards, housing disrepair complaints should be immediately addressed by the council. The problem in some cases, though, is that there are tenants who do not know who their landlords are. Likewise, there are rogue landlords who continue to rent out properties despite convictions, and there are others who switched to the private rentals sector after being barred from HMOs. 

Stricter licensing requirements

To protect tenants and homeowners, the council will need to be stricter on the licensing of private rent landlords and enforce the submission of electrical, gas, and fire certificates when applying for a license. This will be a means for the council to easily reach out to the landlords should there be any complaints from tenants. If far too many complaints are filed against a landlord, the license will be revoked. 

The Oxford council reiterated that tenants’ complaints are focused on problems like mould, unjust evictions, and fire hazards in the city’s rented homes. Raising their issues with the city council is one of the most important tenant rights, and neglecting to do so may pose serious threats on their mental and physical health and safety.

Common housing problems and disrepair issues

Whether you are planning to rent a home or are already renting one, it is crucial to know what possible disrepair issues and other problems can develop in your rented property. This will help you understand why you need to report them to your landlord or city council as soon as you notice them.

These issues are:

Mould in your home

The problem with mould in your home is that you can get respiratory issues and allergic reactions. It is considered a Category 1 hazard, which means it has adverse effects on your health. Black mould, in particular, releases allergens that can trigger asthma and cause chronic coughs, sneezing, rashes, and chronic fatigue. Presence of these symptoms could indicate black mould poisoning.

Mould is a result of damp due to lack of ventilation or an efficient heating system. It can manifest in every part of your home, including your walls, ceilings, furniture, and clothes. 

Black mould can also be dark brown or dark green in colour and is usually circular-shaped. 

Unjust evictions

Your landlord can only evict you from your home if the court approves of it. If they do not have a bailiff with them who has a court order in hand and still insist that you vacate the premises immediately, that is considered an illegal eviction. It is a criminal offence.

You will only be evicted without being harassed if you are a transient or a lodger, live in a housing association hostel, or are temporarily housed in a council home.

Bear in mind, too, that while private landlords do have to follow the correct eviction procedures, there are fewer legal rights afforded to private tenants than those who rent social housing or through a housing association. 

Housing hazards

Faulty electrics and defective gas installations can cause fires. The risk is higher for rented homes without a functional smoke alarm system. This is where the electrical and gas safety certificates come in handy. As a tenant, you need to check for the certificates before you sign your tenancy agreement. 

Your landlord should also have at least an E classification on their Energy Performance certificate. This way, you are ensured the home you are moving into is safe.

Sudden rent increase

If you have a fixed-term lease, your landlord can only raise your rent by a reasonable amount when the term ends. Rent will be increased on a regular basis if you have an assured shorthold lease. There is, however, a limit to how much they can increase rent by.

Any increase that your landlord wants to impose must have your approval. They are required to follow what is stipulated in your tenancy agreement and to give you at least six months’ notice for a fixed-term tenancy or a month’s notice for month-on-month tenancies.

It is one of your tenant rights to challenge the increase that your landlord applies to your rent. Negotiate with them and once you reach an agreement, have them prepare a written record that you both should sign. The increase must be reasonable, fair, and within the borough’s approved rent range.

Complaining about your landlord

Once you discover a problem that requires immediate attention, contact your landlord right away. It is their responsibility to provide you with a safe and secure environment. In the event that they refuse your requests, you can lodge a complaint against them and contact the housing disrepair experts at DisrepairClaim.co.uk. You can file a legal action against them for violating the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.