The Property Ombudsman
If you are renting a property through a letting agent which is a member of one of the three main trade associations Association of Residential Letting Agents, National Association of Estate Agents and the National Approved Letting Scheme then there is the option of contacting The Property Ombudsman (previously known as The Ombudsman for Estate Agents). There is little recourse other than legal action through the small claims court if the dispute involves a letting agent that is not registered with this ombudsman scheme or you are dealing directly with a landlord. The Property Ombudsman will offer mediation to find a settlement and can award compensation to a tenant who has been disadvantaged through the maladminstration or unfair treatment via a letting agent.
Citizen's Advice Bureau
The Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB) can offer advice on where to get support, such as the Property Ombudsman and regarding a tenant's legal rights. The CAB can also act as your advocate and help in mediating a dispute. The CAB has long campaigned for greater regulation of letting agents and the private rental property sector. One recent online survey by CAB found that 73% of tenants were dissatisfied with the service provided by their letting agent.
Residential Property Tribunal Service
The Residential Property Tribunal Service is the umbrella organisation for the five regional offices called Rent Assessment Panels which provide an independent, fair and accessible tribunal service in England for settling disputes involving private rented and leasehold property
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
If the property is 3 or more storeys and occupied by 5 or more people it will normally come under the mandatory licensing regime. Other HMOs may be licensed but that depends on the local authority.
If the property requires a licence:
- The landlord and their associates must satisfy the requirement to be a fit and proper person;
- The property must be up to an acceptable standard
HMOs are regulated by your local authority, so if you have any concerns over the state of the property, the behaviour of your landlord, or whether your property is correctly licensed contact your local authority's housing team.