I don't like my housemates

  • Q: I don’t get on with my housemates anymore and I want to move out – can I give the landlord or agent notice?
  • A: You must first check your contract. If you have signed a fixed term agreement, then you remain liable/responsible for the rent and you will need to find a replacement tenant. If you are in halls of residence or rent from a larger supplier, you may be able to obtain a transfer to a different room in the same building or another part of their portfolio. This way there is no loss of income to the owner and you get to move away from the problem. If there is a serious household dispute and you feel forced to move out, it is important to seek advice.

My housemate has moved out and now we owe their rent

  • Q: We have signed a joint contract but one of our housemates has moved out. The landlord or agent is asking us for the money but we feel the tenant should pay - is this fair?
  • A: Sadly, fairness does not really come into it. The landlord's or agent's primary concern is to collect the rent. If a joint contract has been signed, the landlord or agent can decide who they want to chase for the rent. If the rent remains unpaid, either it can be taken from the collective deposits or in more serious cases, if court action is taken the landlord or agent is likely to issue a summons that names all the tenants. The best option is to try and find a suitable replacement as soon as possible.

I want to move out of university accommodation

  • Q: I want to move out of university accommodation but I have signed a contract for the full academic year.
  • A: Living in university accommodation can give more flexibility. It may be possible to transfer to another hall or flat, or just to another room in the accommodation that you are already in. The first step is to contact your hall’s manager. If you simply move out or refuse offers of a transfer, it is likely that you will remain responsible for the rent. You can try and find a replacement through advertising, although the SU cannot help with this.

I want to move out of my rented house

  • Q: I have moved out of a shared house but my former housemates are refusing to accept my replacement tenant. What can I do?
  • A: If you have signed a joint contract, the remaining household have the right to refuse a replacement tenant; however, they can only refuse on reasonable grounds such, for example, the replacement tenant not being a student and therefore there is an impact on Council Tax. It is important to notify the landlord or agent if they continue to refuse suitable replacements. They may decide to take action against the tenants if rent remains outstanding.

    If you have an individual contract, you do not need to get the permission of others in the house. However, the landlord or agent does need to agree. It is rare that the landlord or agent refuses a replacement tenant and they would have to give good reasons for doing so.

I want to move out of my rented house and found a replacement

  • Q: I have moved out of a shared house and found a replacement for my room. My housemates are happy with the replacement. What do I do next?
  • A: You will need to contact the landlord or agent and see whether they will draw up a new contract to include your replacement. If they refuse, the next best thing is to sign an Assignment Notice. This will state that you are leaving, who is replacing you and from what date. The notice needs to be signed by you, your replacement tenant, the landlord or agent and the remaining tenants. Normally this would secure your release from the contract and you can request your deposit back. However, some Assignment Notices do include a section stating that you remain liable for the rent should your replacement fail to pay. This is legal and would mean that you have not been released from the contract.

Our house is in a poor state of repair

  • Q: Our house is in a poor state of repair - can we move out?
  • A: It is very difficult to get out of a property contract on grounds of disrepair unless the property lacks the basic facilities and services such as heating and running water, or you are in immediate danger. Disrepair is normally an issue of compensation rather than moving out.

Can our landlord evict us?

  • Q: Can our landlord/agent evict us if they want to?
  • A: All landlords must comply with the Protection from Eviction Act. Court action must be taken to remove you from the property/room. There are set mandatoryand discretionary grounds for eviction. Mandatory means that if the case is proven, the court will have no option but to grant possession (e.g. eight weeks’ rent arrears). If discretionary grounds are proven, the court will then make a decision whether it is reasonable for possession to be granted (e.g. if the landlord/agent claims the property has not been looked after by the tenants and the condition of the property has been adversely affected). Under no circumstances can a landlord change the locks, refuse access or remove your possessions. This would amount to an illegal eviction and you could sue for damages.

    However, if you live with an owner and are classed as an excluded tenant, your protection against eviction is more complicated and you will need to seek advice about your position.

My landlord wants me to leave early

  • Q: My landlord wants me to leave early, what do I do?
  • A: If the housing provider (landlord, agent, university, private owner) wants you to leave early, you must look at the terms of your contract. If you have a fixed term agreement, they cannot ask you to leave unless you are in breach of contract, in which case they must apply for a court order for an eviction notice, or if the landlord or agent has stated in the contract that the property was recently their principal home, although this is rare.

I have received an eviction notice

  • Q: I have received an eviction notice, what do I do?
  • A: An eviction notice is a legal request for you to leave the property and it is very important that you seek advice as the soonest opportunity. You will be given notice of the time and date of the eviction on a court document called a possession order. Only court bailiffs can evict you from your home and they will either post this or deliver this notice document by hand. If you don't leave by the date set out in the possession order made by the court, your landlord can apply to the court for bailiffs to evict you. It is important to have found alternative accommodation, be packed and ready to hand back your keys on the day the bailiffs arrive.

My landlord's house has been repossessed

  • Q: My landlord's house is being repossessed and I have been told to leave. What can I do?
  • A: Although this is rare, there are circumstances where landlords fall out of contract and fail to keep up with their legal responsibilities on the property you are renting. A court may grant possession on behalf of a lender (bank or building society) if the landlord has failed to make the mortgage payments. If the landlord has not informed the lender that they were renting the property out, the lender will not recognise you as tenants. As such they have the power to repossess the property with a court order. You can apply to the court for the order to be suspended for a short period of time so that you can find alternative accommodation. It is important to seek advice at the earliest opportunity if you find yourself in this situation.

How can the SU help?

 It is important to seek advice from us if you find yourself in any of the situations above. In most cases, the sooner you ask for help, the easier it is to resolve without more consequences occuring.