Dear Ethel | Issue 20

Dear Ethel | Issue 20

Extra Residents in the Flat

Dear Ethel,

I think we’re in deep shit! We’re in a five-bedroom place, but it’s expensive, so we got another four guys in to help cover the rent. The landlord came around last week to do an inspection and sprung extra beds and extra people in four rooms. He went nuts and is threatening legal action. What can we do?

Don’t panic! You won’t be the first and you certainly won’t be the last students to be in this situation. It’s not nearly as bad as you think.

For the landlord to be able to do anything at all, the tenancy agreement you signed has to stipulate “maximum occupancy”. Let’s assume that your agreement does limit you to five tenants. What then? The landlord has to give you the opportunity to fix things. They do this by issuing you with a 14-day notice that pretty much says, “Hey, you’re in breach of your contract. You need to fix it by getting rid of the extra three (or 23 or however many) people you’ve crammed into the flat.” Once you get that notice, you’ve got 14 days to make those people go away.

If you don’t get rid of them in time, the landlord can take you to the Tenancy Tribunal. The tribunal can legally order you to get rid of the people who aren’t on the lease or it might consider terminating your tenancy if the landlord asks for that.

You may be worried that the landlord can ask you for six months’ of extra money for those extra people, but it doesn’t work like that. You have to be given the chance to fix what’s not right. Even if it goes to the tribunal, the only real avenue for your landlord to get any extra dosh is if they can prove having those extra people caused damage or more wear and tear to the property. 

So, don’t get too upset. Fix it before it gets to the tribunal (best not to have your names on public record). Pop into 5 Ethel B if you want more information about how best to deal with grumpy landlords,  starvation or anything else that’s bothering you! If allowances were even vaguely aligned with real living costs, we wouldn’t be answering your letter.

This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2015.
Posted 2:46pm Sunday 16th August 2015 by Student Support.