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Problems when renting privately

We may be able to help you, or offer advice, if you are waiting for a repair, you have been illegally evicted or if things go wrong with your letting agent.​​​​

Repairs

If you have a fault or damage to your home or the fittings and appliances that belong to the landlord, you should:
  • report the problem, in writing, to your landlord or managing agent of your home. Visit Shelter's website​ for further advice on how to report problems and for a template letter you can use. You should keep copies of all letters that you send.
  • follow up your report with an email or letter and keep a copy so you have record of the problem - you will need to produce this written evidence if you need to approach the council with a complaint about housing disrepairs not responded to by the landlord. A follow up template can be found on Shelter's website.
  • take photographs of the problem.

If your landlord doesn't do the repair, or takes too long

You must allow enough time and give your landlord access to the property to allow them to do the repair.
 
If your landlord refuses to do the repair, takes too long to do it or doesn't answer you, we can:
  • give you advice
  • talk with your landlord
  • where appropriate, take action to make sure the repairs are carried out. 

When a disrepair complaint is received by the council you will need to provide a copy of any correspondence provided by you to your landlord detailing the disrepair issues. If you have not formally notified your landlord of the defects then we will not take any formal action, unless an emergency issue has been reported. You are still expected to report emergency problems to your landlord first. Once you have provided your correspondence and other evidence, such as photographs, the severity of the problem will be assessed and classified either as:

  • an urgent problem
  • a less urgent problem.

You will receive an acknowledgement letter providing you with contact details for the case officer. 

All licensed properties will then receive a licence conditions audit. This is a legal request for the licence holder to submit a number of relevant documents, including:

  • up to date inspection records
  • gas safety certificates
  • electrical safety certificates
  • tenancy deposit paperwork
  • tenancy agreements. 
Unlicensed properties will be referred to the Licensing Enforcement team for further investigation.


If your case is assessed as an urgent problem then an officer will then make contact within 48 hours to assess the defect(s) and take the appropriate action (which could be the issue of a legal notice and subsequent legal action). 

For less urgent cases, the council will wait for a response to the licence condition audit. A failure to respond, or where the response is inadequate or unsatisfactory, will normally result in enforcement action. Additionally the case officer may then determine that a visit to your property is necessary. They will then inspect and take the appropriate action, similar to the process described above for urgent cases.

If, however, the response is satisfactory then the case will be closed. You will be notified of this prior to the case being closed. At this point if you still have evidence of serious defects in your property then you are advised to take photographs to submit to the case officer to consider the next course of action. Unless there are serious outstanding defects the case will be closed.

Email privatehousing@newham.gov.uk or call us on 020 3373 1950.

Emergency repairs

In emergencies you should phone the electricity or gas supplier or the emergency services. Remember to tell your landlord too.

Gas leak

You should report a gas leak on the Nationa​l Gas Emergency Line: 0800 111 999.
 

Electricity power cut 

If your electricity is cut off, you should phone your electricity supplier and your electricity meter number to hand.
 
If you do not know who your supplier is, visit the UK Power Networks website and select 'Who is my supplier?'. They also provide advice for power cuts.
 

Water problems 

You should report any leaks to your landlord.
 
If your water is cut off, you should phone Thames Water on 0845 9200 800 and have your meter number to hand.
 
 

Illegal eviction

Depending on your rights to access the property, if the locks have been changed you may have been illegally evicted.

If you rent privately, you are probably an assured shorthold tenant and your landlord cannot evict you without a court order.

As long as you have a legal right to live there, your landlord cannot stop you using any part of the property by:
  • ​issuing threats
  • bullying
  • violence
  • withholding services such as gas or electricity
  • or any other sort of interference.
If this is happening to you, phone the police or contact the Hackney Community Law Centre, Citizens Advice Bureau, Stratford Advice Arcade, Shelter​ or a solicitor.

In certain circumstances landlords and letting agents can be prosecuted for harassment and illegal evictions.

If you have been locked out by anybody it is important to understand your legal rights. Contact the Hackney Community Law Centre, Citizens Advice Bureau, Stratford Advice Arcade or a solicitor.

If you rent a room in your landlord's home and share some accommodation with them, such as a kitchen or bathroom, you are legally not a tenant, but a lodger or an 'excluded occupier'.

Excluded occupiers have very few legal rights. You may have some contractual rights which have been agreed verbally with your landlord or that are set out in your agreement. However, he or she only needs to give 'reasonable notice' to ask you to leave. This is normally 28 days, but could be shorter.

Your landlord doesn't need a possession order from the court to evict you, but they can get one if they choose to. You'll be trespassing if you stay in the accommodation without your landlord's permission after the notice period has ended. If a bailiff attends, they must carry a photo ID of the Court Enforcement organisation they work for. If in doubt call the Court or Police.

You can find out more about your rights as a lodger on the Citizen's Advice website.

If you would like further advice the Homelessness Prevention and Advice Service may be able to work with you and the property owner to resolve the situation. 

If you need to visit the Homelessness Prevention and Advice service you must bring the following:
  • ​proof of your identity and the identities of everyone to be included as part of your household, such as birth certificates, passports, immigration documents
  • proof of your income and any savings or investments you have, such as wage slips, bank statements, benefit books, savings books, share certificates
  • your current tenancy agreement and any previous tenancy agreements you have for other homes you have previously lived in
  • evidence that you are threatened with homelessness, such as a notice of seeking possession, possession order or bailiffs' warrant
  • confirmation in writing that you are being made homeless if friends or family are asking you to leave
  • proof of your previous addresses for the last five years and your partner’s addresses if relevant, such as: medical cards, bank statements, utility bills etc.
  • evidence of any serious illness or disability that you or any member of your household have, such as letters from your GP, hospital consultant, details of any prescribed medication.
The Homelessness Prevention and Advice service will try to prevent an illegal eviction. Where there is evidence of an illegal eviction having taken place, the Service may pass it on to the Private Housing & Environmental Health Team for further investigation and potential legal action.

Address: 
East Ham Town Hall Annexe
330-354 Barking Road 
E6 2RT

Opening  Hours: 
9am - 4pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 
1pm – 4pm Wednesday

If you become homeless when the office is closed in an emergency call 020 8430 2000. 


 

Rent Repayment Orders (RRO)

Under new powers tenants can make an application for a RRO for up to 12 months’ rent from their landlord. A RRO applies to the following situations:

  • Your landlord has not applied for a property licence
  • Your landlord has not complied with an Improvement Notice served by the council
  • Your landlord has not complied with a Prohibition Order served by the council
  • Your landlord has used violence to gain entry to your property
  • Your landlord has illegally evicted you or harassed you in your property
  • Your landlord has breached a Banning Order.

Where one or more of these situations has occurred you will need to make an application for a RRO to the Property Tribunal.

You should write to:
First Tier Tribunal (Residential Property)
10 Alfred Place
LONDON
WC1E 7LR
Tel: 0207 446 7700
Fax: 01264 785 060 
Website: https://www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/first-tier-tribunal-property-chamber

You will need to have evidence of your tenancy, the rent you have paid, the details of the offence that your landlord has allegedly committed (from the list above) and copies of any relevant paperwork from the council, such as an Improvement Notice which has been breached. The Council will provide copies of legal Notices and Orders to all known tenants. If you do not have a copy then council will provide you with one. 

You are strongly advised to get help in making an application for a RRO. A housing solicitor or advocacy group may be able to help you; refer to the links in the Illegal Eviction section, above.

 

If things go wrong with your letting agent

If you are having problems with your agent there are steps you can take to get help. If, for example, you think the agent has:
  • charged you too much
  • not told you about charges in advance
  • charged you and landlord for the same thing

  • you may be able to get your money back.
     
    If your agent is registered with a trade association speak to the association for advice.
    If you think your letting agent has acted illegally you can email our Trading Standards Team or phone 020 3373 9937.
 

Other problems

From complaints about your landlord to problems with housemates, Shelter could help you to resolve any issues you have when you are renting privately.
 
If you are in rent arrears or having difficulty in paying your rent, you can also get advice from the Money Advice Service and the Citizens Advice Service.
 
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Contact us

  • Private Housing Technical Support
    London Borough of Newham Newham Dockside
    1000 Dockside Road
    London
    E16 2QU

    020 3373 1950

    Email us