The rental market in the UK is always healthy, largely due to the limited supply of land. To protect both tenants and landlords throughout the rental process, many legislations have been put in place by the government. Relevant to the legalities of letting, these legislations spell out the letter of the law, but they are not always helpful in maintaining a harmonious letting relationship. Differences of opinion are not uncommon. But a small difference of opinion can quickly escalate into a dispute and when it does, what should you do?
Types of complaint
First, let’s look at what types of complaints could crop up between a landlord and tenant:
- Rental increases
- Leasehold disputes
- Property maintenance
- Unpaid bills
- Unpaid rent
- Stolen/missing property
- Deposit disputes
- Property repairs
Next, let’s consider what you should do if you have a complaint. In terms of property repairs, clear guidance is available for both parties, stipulating what each has responsibility for. Full details of this are available from the Government website. Seeing if the law clarifies responsibility for your issue, may instantly dissolve it. If it doesn’t, the first person you should speak to is your tenant or landlord. Your complaint could be very quickly and easily resolved with a calm and structured discussion. It is worth preparing for such discussions, to make sure that you cover all the points you wish to raise. To ensure you are clear on what your issue is and to help you to keep suitable records, follow these three simple steps:
- Tell your landlord or tenant why you are unhappy, detailing the exact issue and providing any relevant background information.
- Let the tenant or landlord know what you would like them to do to resolve your complaint.
- Keep notes about what was discussed, the outcome, the date and time of your discussion, and who you spoke to.
If discussion fails, the next step would be a formal complaint. If you are a tenant it is worth finding out if your landlord has a complaints procedure. These procedures are in place to help put things right, so use them to your advantage. Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, Shelter provide some excellent guidance and detail the basic steps in making a complaint, including:
- What your complaint should contain.
- How to keep track of your complaint.
- The appropriate length of time for a response.
- Dispute Resolution
If reasonable discussion and submission of a formal complaint haven’t resulted in a satisfactory outcome, you’ve got a dispute. There are very few people who enjoy conflict, particularly in relation to their home. It can be a source of great frustration, anxiety and upset. Litigation is costly, time consuming, and it is rarely an effective method for resolving landlord and tenancy disputes, particularly if the tenancy agreement is to continue. So what should you do to find a resolution?
Where there has been a total breakdown in communication but you need to find a way to settle your differences, outside of court, you may want to try alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Dispute resolution will offer an impartial, independent intermediary who will look at your problem and help to find a resolution agreeable to both parties. This may be the simplest and most effective method of finding an outcome. It is worth noting that, if all your attempts to resolve your dispute fail and you end up going to court anyway, having tried ADR will evidence your willingness to find a resolution.