Problems with your landlord - how solicitors can help

Problems With Your Landlord – How Solicitors Can Help

From time to time, both tenants and landlords may need to seek expert legal advice from a solicitor for a range of matters and different disputes. It could be related to payments, interest or maintenance, damage, and cleanliness – all these legal matters can be stressful and confusing without the right kind of advice, support and guidance.

Experienced landlord/tenant dispute solicitors

McPartland & Sons experienced property dispute lawyers can provide sensible advice and will always try to resolve matters through negotiation, mediation, or arbitration. However, if that fails, we can offer to support you through a claim or defence in the civil courts or tribunals.

We advise on a wide range of landlord and tenant matters including:

Harassment and Illegal Eviction

You have the right to live in the property undisturbed and what is dubbed as ‘quiet enjoyment’. This means that you have the right to use the property without unreasonable or unnecessary interference from the landlord or their agent.

Tenant harassment can include your landlord or someone acting on the landlord’s behalf

  • cutting off the electricity supply
  • entering the premises without permission (aside from in an emergency)
  • carrying out acts of violence

An illegal eviction includes a landlord who is attempting to make you leave your home whereby the correct legal proceeds have not been carried out. Harassment and illegal eviction are both criminal offences and anyone found guilty can be imprisoned or fined.

Termination or Note to Quit

Your landlord should give you at least 28 days ‘notice to quit’ the accommodation. This should be in written form. The amount of notice needed to end a tenancy depends on how long you have lived in the property.

  • Up to 5 years = 4 weeks’ notice
  • 5-10 years = 8 weeks’ notice
  • More than 10 years = 12 weeks’ notice

Likewise, if you are planning to leave the accommodation you must give the landlord the correct amount of notice in writing. It is a crime for your landlord to harass you or try to force you out of a property without using a court order.

Rent Disputes

You have the right to challenge rent increases that you feel are unfair, however, the process is slightly different depending on where you live. In Northern Ireland

  • Any rent increases must be fair.
  • Your landlord must obtain your permission before increasing the rent.
  • If you are within a fixed-term tenancy, your landlord must give you at least 28 days’ written notice.
  • If you are on a periodic tenancy (week by week, month by month) your rent can be increased at the end of your rental period.
  • You have the right to cancel your agreement without penalty if you cannot agree to the rent increase.

A landlord cannot discriminate against you by charging you higher rent than others because of your race, nationality, sex or age. 

Disputes over how your property is managed

Your landlord is also generally responsible for keeping in repair:

  • the structure and exterior of your home, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows, and external doors
  • basins, sinks, baths, toilets, and their pipework
  • water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters.

If a landlord refuses to make repairs that may expose you to potential health and safety risks, this can result in the tenant taking legal action. Your landlord isn’t allowed to pass on the cost of any repair work to you which is their responsibility.

What obligations do you have in your lease or tenancy agreement?

In Northern Ireland, there is also no legal requirement to use a tenancy agreement. However, it is a good idea to ask for a written tenancy agreement so both you and your landlord fully understand your obligations and your rights. Once you have signed this document, you have committed to pay the rent for the full term of the contract.

Your tenancy agreement gives you extra rights about:

  • the length of time the tenancy runs
  • leaving before the end of the tenancy
  • repairs
  • subletting
  • taking in lodgers
  • keeping pets
  • passing on the tenancy

Always check the terms of the tenancy agreement carefully before you sign it.

The above instances are probable cause to complain against your landlord and give you legal grounds to terminate your tenancy without facing any penalties. McPartland & Sons always recommend speaking to your landlord first to try and resolve the dispute before seeking other options. 

If this doesn’t work, you may seek assistance to raise your complaints from our team of expert property dispute solicitors. They have experience representing both landlords and tenants in a range of property dispute cases. Get in touch to find out how one of our property dispute solicitors could help you.

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