During Your Tenancy: Dealing With Issues

Our Advice Centre supports students facing housing issues every day. There are a lot of common issues that many students will face during their tenancy that we can help you with. Some are easier to solve than others, but knowing when to seek help is important to make sure your time in a tenancy is as stress-free as possible. We’ve put together a guide to common issues that can come up and our advice for dealing with these.

At the Advice Centre, we support students facing housing issues every day.

There are a lot of common questions that we get asked and a lot of issues that many students will face during their tenancy that we can help you with. Some are easier to solve than others, but knowing when to seek help is important to make sure your time in a tenancy is as stress-free as possible. We’ve put together a guide to common issues that can come up and our advice for dealing with these.

Disrepair

One of the most common issues we help students with is disrepair in their rented home. When it comes to disrepair, there are some things which are your responsibility to look after as tenants, and some which are the landlord’s responsibility.

Landlord's disrepair responsibilities:

  • Heating and hot water supply
  • Basins, sinks, baths and toilets
  • The property's structure, windows, external doors, drains and gutters
  • Gas appliances (cooker, boiler)
  • Electrical installations (wiring, electrical sockets and fittings)

Tenant's disrepair responsibilities:

  • Report any disrepair to the landlord/agent promptly
  • Change light bulbs
  • Test smoke alarms regularly, changing batteries when needed
  • Keep the property and garden clean and tidy

As soon as you notice disrepair in your house, report it in writing (email/text) to your landlord or estate agent. Urgent problems (no hot water/heating, unsafe electricals etc.) should be actioned within 24 hours and less urgent ones within a few weeks. Landlords often delay dealing with issues too long, but you don’t have to put up with this. If your landlord is not being prompt in their responses, ask an advisor for guidance straight away.

If your landlord is not dealing with serious problems such as electrical safety or heating, then you can ask the council’s Environmental Health team for help via email. If necessary, they will inspect the property and order the landlord to make necessary repairs.

Housemates

Disagreements between housemates are more common than you may think. We’d always advise that you try to speak to and resolve issues with your housemates because it is almost impossible to get out of a tenancy agreement. In fact, 99.9% of the time, the only way out is to find a tenant to replace you, which can be difficult, and even then, the other housemates could refuse to accept them.

If you’d like some advice about speaking to your housemates, or someone to potentially mediate a discussion with them, you can contact the University's Wellbeing team via email.

Most housing contracts are joint agreements, meaning that all tenants are jointly liable for the rent and bills. Therefore, if one of you stops paying rent or for their share of the bills, the rest of the housemates can be chased for this. If you’re having issues with your rent or bill payments, get in touch with us.

Landlord behaviour

Unfortunately, we’ve seen that some landlords try to take advantage of students, expecting them not to know their rights as private tenants. If you have a minute, take a look at our housing advice pages so you know what to expect when living in private sector housing, or check out the highlights below:

  • Your landlord or anyone on behalf of your landlord (e.g. handyman, gardener), shouldn’t be entering your property without giving you notice and getting your agreement. You can refuse to let them in if you haven’t been given proper notice.
  • Your landlord should have protected your deposit in a government-registered scheme. You can read more about deposit protection in our article.
  • Under the Tenant Fees Act 2019, there are restrictions on what you can be charged for e.g. you cannot be asked to pay for a check-in/out, or forced to pay for professional cleaning at the end of your tenancy; read more on our leaving advice page.

If you’re having lots of problems with your landlord, or they are acting in a threatening or inappropriate way, please get in touch with us by email to speak to an advisor.

Neighbours

At the start of term, we published an article with lots of information and tips about how to be a good neighbour in your private house. You can read the full article, and also check out the University's Be A Good Neighbour Guide for more information. Here are the top tips:

  • Be friendly! Make sure to introduce yourself to your neighbours, and if you feel comfortable, share contact details with them so you know who to contact in an emergency, or if there are any issues
  • Keep noise to a minimum. When living in a residential area, you should not be making noise loud enough to disturb others in the area at any time - whether this is on your way home at night, or playing music in the middle of the day. If a complaint is made about you, it can result in misconduct action being taken by the university - if this has happened, get in touch with us for advice.
  • Make sure you know your bins. It’s your responsibility to know when your bins get collected, and what goes in which bin, to avoid any complaints being made about over, or incorrectly filled bins. You can find out more about bin collections on the Runnymede Council website.

Further support

The Advice Centre is a free, independent and confidential service for all students here at Royal Holloway. Our friendly, experienced and professional staff will provide a listening ear and offer general and specialist advice. We’re here to support you with a whole range of issues, big and small, and if we’re not the best people to help you with a particular issue, we’ll point you in the right direction.

Our advisors hold drop-ins on Zoom every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon 13:30-15:30, and in-person every Wednesday 13:30-15:30. You can find more information on our events calendar and can join the virtual drop-ins.

Email us with any questions or to ask for a different meeting time.

What Else is Happening?

We've got plenty of events running throughout Housing Week! Check out our campaign page for more events and blog posts.