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Seeking Legal Help for Rental Disputes

For obvious reasons, sharing a flat or house has become an increasingly popular way of living in the UK today. However, as a co-habiting arrangement, it is susceptible to problems and conflict that can sometimes require legal attention. Although it’s advisable to resolve conflict through mediation, you may need to turn to the law.

Why Should You Seek Legal Help?

Before you take the legal route, talk to your landlord about your concerns and retain proper records while ensuring that you’ve fulfilled your responsibilities. There are numerous situations which could warrant legal intervention – here are some of the more common ones:

•  When you face harassment or are being unduly pressurized by your co-tenant, flatmate, or landlord to leave the flat, and resolving it through talks or mediation fails. Your landlord cannot legally evict you without a court order provided you have not defaulted on payment of rent or other bill payments.

•  When repairs have not been done despite reminders or when your landlord fails to address other issues like discrimination, complying with regulations, or failure to maintain and provide proper rental records and documentation.

•  When your landlord withholds your rent deposit or charges you for other bills unfairly.

There are a lot of agencies and organizations within UK that offer legal assistance for those sharing a house or flat – both free and paid. Consult one of repute and remember to check their credentials.

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How Should You Seek Legal Help?

Before filing a complaint, check with your local advice centre for help and guidance. Compile your evidence and have it ready. You should take care of the following factors:

•  Reliable witnesses who were present when the incident happened

•  Documentary evidence, e.g. rent receipts, payment receipts, rental agreement, statements, emails or other correspondence, written agreements, statements, receipts, etc.

•  Tangible evidence, e.g. damaged objects, photographs or videos that show the damage or incident, or accounts and testimonials from experts.

The Citizens Advice Bureau offers free advice and is reputable. Search for your local CAB, approach your local Tenancy Relations Officer, you can also go to your local council to settle disputes.

For matters related to harassment and illegal eviction, the local councils have the power to start legal proceedings and, with acceptable evidence, carry out an investigation which may lead to prosecution if they believe an offence has been committed.

For matters related to money, you can approach the small claims court or in some cases the local county courts. Even if you feel the money involved is small, consult a certified legal representative. They are in the best position to give you accurate legal advice. You wouldn’t want to be stuck in a maze of legal complexity.

End Note

Remember that legal implications may also vary depending on your tenancy status, so it’s always better to seek an expert’s advice.

Think matters through once again to figure out if it’s best to go down the legal route, and that you’ve tried the alternatives available to you. After all, sharing a property is a temporary living arrangement and supposed to make your life easier. However, if the severity of the crime warrants justice and you’ve decided to take the plunge, show conviction in your decision and comply with all legal norms. Listen to your lawyer and be prepared to devote time to the legal proceedings.

Ed Shin runs the UK’s only review & resource guide for house & flatshares on the web. To find out more, visit http://www.HouseFlatshareReviews.co.uk

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One Response to "Seeking Legal Help for Rental Disputes"

  1. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on this.
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