Maybe you have just moved into your new student house for this year, or you have signed onto the same house for another year, but do you know what you are actually responsible for?
The first place to look for what you and your landlord are responsible for is your tenancy agreement or contract. Ideally you (and someone else) should read it before you sign it, then discuss and possibly make changes to things you are unhappy with before it’s finalised. Even if you have already signed it go back, read it, and make sure you know what it sets out. Your agreement must be fair and comply with the law. If you are concerned about this, there is advice available at the SU.
Some contracts might stipulate specific or unconventional responsibilities for the tenant. This could be you being responsible for the white goods (so if your washing machine breaks down its your job to fix it) or something relevant to a quirk of the house you are living in. Other key responsibilities are bills – which ones are you responsible for, and are you required to stay with a specific company?
Your landlord will have responsibilities too, such as repairs. If possible, try to have it set out in the contract how quickly your landlord is expected to deal with issues so you are not stuck waiting weeks for your oven to be fixed. Reporting issues promptly to your landlord should mean things are fixed quicker, and your landlord will appreciate it as repairs are often cheaper if dealt with before they become bigger problems or an emergency.
There are some responsibilities that exist regardless of what your contract says for both you and your landlord. These are set out in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and the Housing Act 1988.
Your landlord cannot just turn up and demand access to the property unless it is an emergency. They must give you at least 24 hours’ notice, and they must organise a visit for a reasonable time of the day so you can be present for the inspection if you want. They are also responsible for keeping the property safe and free from health hazards, following fire safety regulations, and ensuring all gas and electrical equipment is safely installed and maintained, as well as conducting necessary repairs to the exterior and structure of the property.
The law entitles you to know who your landlord is; to receive a copy of the “how to rent guide”; to live undisturbed; be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent; and live in a property that is safe and in a good state of repair. But you must take good care of the property; pay the rent even if repairs are needed or you’re in dispute with your landlord; and repair or pay for damage caused by you or anyone you let into the property.
To have a good relationship with your landlord you should report problems, stick to your agreement, and as much as it might pain you, be honest when you have damaged the property.
However, sometimes things do go wrong and you might find yourself in a difficult position, such as your landlord refusing to carry out repairs, or at the end of the tenancy they may unfairly withhold your deposit. It is best to seek advice from someone with experience. The student union provides free housing advice and you can make an appointment to speak to someone, they can be found upstairs in the hive. There is also support and information on the Citizens Advice website and on https://www.gov.uk/private-renting.