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Student housing – unacceptable behaviour by your landlord

This advice applies to England

Occasionally, students living in private rented accommodation find their landlord’s behaviour interferes with how they use their home. Some landlords may not be experienced in letting accommodation and may not be aware of what is expected of them. Or some may be aware that they are acting unlawfully but continue to do so anyway.

This page highlights some of the things that your landlord should not do and what your legal rights are.

Using your home without your landlord interfering

Every tenant has the right to enjoy their home undisturbed. This is called quiet enjoyment. You have this right even if your tenancy agreement doesn’t expressly state it because the law implies it into all tenancy agreements.

Quiet enjoyment means that your landlord must let you live in your home without unnecessary interference.

Examples of when a landlord interferes with a tenant’s quiet enjoyment include:

  • interfering with or cutting off services such as water, gas or electricity
  • entering your home while you are out and without your permission.

Such behaviour by your landlord could also amount to harassment.

Quiet enjoyment only applies to tenancies. The law does not imply the same right into licence agreements. For example, lodgers usually have licence agreements and a lodger's landlord can enter the lodger's room without permission.

When can your landlord enter your home?

Tenants

If you are a tenant your landlord or their agent, has the right to access your home to see what repair work is needed and to carry out the repairs. However, unless it’s an emergency, they must give you at least 24 hours' notice in writing.

If there’s an emergency and your landlord cannot get hold of you, they can force entry if they need to get into your home. For example, if a burst pipe in your flat is causing water to leak into the flat below.

If your landlord wants to enter your home for any other reason, for example, to show round a new tenant, they can only do this with your agreement or in accordance with any reasonable term set out in your tenancy agreement.

Lodgers

If you’re a lodger living in the same accommodation as your landlord, your landlord is likely to have a more general right to enter your room. For example, cleaning your room may be part of the services that you pay for and your landlord will need to enter your room to do this. Your agreement may give more information about the circumstances when your landlord can enter your room.

Harassment and illegal eviction

Harassment and illegal eviction are criminal offences. Your landlord may be prosecuted if they harass or evict you illegally. They are also civil offences, which means that you can take legal action and claim compensation in the county court.

Examples of harassment include:

  • forcing you to sign an agreement that takes away your legal rights
  • interfering with or cutting off services such as water, gas or electricity
  • visiting your home regularly without warning, especially at night
  • using threatening behaviour or being physically violent.

You have the right not be harassed regardless of the type of tenancy or licence agreement you have. However, the type of tenancy you have and how easy it may be to evict you may help you decide what action you can realistically take. You should check this before taking any action.

Examples of illegal eviction include:

  • changing the locks while you are out
  • physically removing you from your home
  • stopping you from getting into your home or part of it.

Some people are excluded from protection from illegal eviction, for example, if you share accommodation with your landlord. However, even in these circumstances, it would be unlawful for your landlord to use violence to make you leave.

  • More about harassment and illegal eviction at www.gov.uk

Taking action to enforce your rights

If your landlord is interfering with the right to live in your home in peace and not to be harassed, there is action that you can take. However, tenants in private rented accommodation can usually be evicted quite easily. You should bear this in mind before trying to enforce your rights.

  • More about what you can do about harassment and illegal eviction at www.gov.uk

Next steps

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