Sourcing free legal advice for private renting

PUBLISHED 08-June-2020 · UPDATED 08-June-2020

I can’t be the only one who’s unfairly had deductions taken from my rental deposit.

I also can’t be the only one who’s felt a little overwhelmed and helpless at the thought of challenging sketchy landlords and dodgy letting agents (you know the ones)?

In this article, I want to make you aware of the people working tirelessly to advise and guide you in regards to your rights and the law (within the UK, that is). I’m under the impression that for too long, students have been taken for a ride on the back of our lacking knowledge of our rights as tenants. I think it’s time that changed.

Citizens Advice

You’ve probably heard their name; some readers might even know a little about what this charity does. What you probably don’t know is that they’ll advise you (for free) on issues like:

  • Housing
  • Discrimination
  • Employment rights
  • Family matters 
  • Health 
  • Social care
  • Debt
  • And many, many more.

The thing that makes these unsung heroes so excellent is that in addition to the brilliant FAQ/information page about renting privately, they’ve got centres across the UK who you can contact by email, phone or walk-in (once this whole COVID-19 sitch is over). You can find your local centre here.

Your place of study

It’s likely that your university/college has an entire team prepared to help you on the topic of private renting. You can usually find them hanging out in the student wellbeing part of your campus (again, not during the pandemic of course) or you find them by looking through the institution’s official website.

As someone who studied at Bournemouth University, I’ll use their website as an example of how I could find the relevant team:

Homepage → Why BU? → Accommodation → LettingsBU and private rentals

This digital journey took me to a page containing guides, advice, email contacts and phone numbers. Whilst all institutions are different, the process will be similar.

Shelter England

Whether it’s legal advice, online advice or a national helpline, Shelter helps people across England with housing issues. What I love most about this organisation is that they’re also helping the homeless and campaigning for better living conditions.

In early 2018, Shelter worked with their supporters to put pressure on the Government to end no-fault evictions. Additionally, Shelter are now working on a ‘No excuse for ‘No DSS’ campaign to end discrimination towards tenants who rely on benefits.

SaveTheStudent

I’ve been a big fan of these guys & girls for a while now. Covering a range of topics from accommodation to banking, they’ve been on-the-ball about informing students about the importance of knowing their rights.

In July 2019, they posted 10 tenancy rights every student should know. I’ve used, shared, read and reread this article because it explains tenancy rights in a format that (almost) anybody could understand.

The reality is that landlords and letting agents have the upper hand on students due to access to resources and support that the student population generally can’t afford and/or aren’t aware of. Unilet Advisor is working to change that by providing students with a free platform to rate & review properties to protect future tenants from exploitive landlords/letting agents.

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