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Take Your Time Before You Sign!

7 Oct 2021

Jess Wilson

Take Your Time Before You Sign!

It’s widely accepted that a part of student life is living in shoddy housing, with extortionate rent and an awful landlord. If you’re a fresher and have just started to have a look at houses for your second year, you might be shocked at the state of some of the houses in Selly Oak. From leaky windows and rats to dangerous electrics and mouldy mattresses, you’ll find it all in the student rental market. But, no matter what your budget is, you deserve safe, hygienic, good quality housing. In fact, you’re legally entitled to it under the Homes Act (2018) and Landlords and Tenants Act (1985). It’s important that you know your rights before signing leases because, believe me, your landlord certainly won’t tell you about them.

This is something I feel very passionately about, having heard countless horror stories and seen some friends worn down by predatory landlords and subpar housing. After investigating the challenges students face when leaving halls and renting private housing, I wrote a report on my findings for the Young Fabians’ pamphlet on the housing sector, which can be found here. I was so excited to be invited to introduce my report at the pamphlet launch as part of the Labour Party Conference in Brighton last month. Discussing the problems young people face in the housing sector with the other contributors on the panel was so enlightening; it became clear that knowledge of what is and isn’t legal in the rental market is routinely obscured from tenants, leaving them susceptible to being ripped off and subjected to horrific conditions. 

This problem is particularly prevalent in the student community, and especially among freshers. When you’ve only just left home and have barely settled into halls, who has the time to be trawling through housing law, right? And when a lettings agent insists you have to sign that long, confusing contract right now otherwise you’ll lose the house, who has the guts to refuse?

Bulseye are here to help. We want to stop Selly Oak landlords and lettings agents from routinely failing to meet the minimum legal requirements for housing quality, and pressuring students into signing contracts before they can really be sure where they want to live, and with whom. So, before you sign that contract, look out for our upcoming articles and flyers on the do’s and don’ts of renting a student house. It might just save you from dealing with nightmare housemates, renting from an unlicensed landlord, or living in an absolute dive!