Nov 6, 2019

Poor housing and stress – what help is out there?

Did you know that living in poor and unsafe accommodation can cause stress?

Mental health and someone’s housing situation might affect each other. For example if you feel where you are living is unsafe, uncomfortable or insecure, you might constantly feel stressed, anxious, panicked or depressed. We look at what you can do and what help is out there for tenants.

What can I do to help myself?

Get professional housing advice. It can feel really hard to ask for help with housing problems, but there are lots of people you can turn to:

  • Nottingham City Council’s Safer Housing team could give you help, advice and information
  • Contact a specialist organisation – for example, you can contact Citizens Advice and Shelter England for advice on many kinds of housing problems
  • Get Legal help – The Law Centre can help with any legal advice you may need
  • Problems with student housing – if you are staying in a house away from your Uni, the Uni may still have an advice team that can help with housing problems. It could also help to talk to your Student Union.

What is my landlord legally required to fix?

Your home should be free from hazards to your physical and mental health (including communal parts and outside space).

There are certain things that your landlord is always legally responsible for, no matter what it says in your tenancy agreement, you can find out the landlord safety responsibilities here.

Your landlord is also required to make any repairs they’re responsible for within a reasonable timeframe – although what’s reasonable will depend on what the problem is.

However, your landlord is not responsible for fixing things if:

  • they don’t know about the problem because you haven’t told them about it, or
  • you’ve caused the problem yourself by not taking reasonable care of the property.

We would advise you to not stop paying your rent if you are having issues because your landlord could take steps to evict you.

How can I make my landlord meet their legal responsibilities to fix my home?

Unfortunately, some landlords don’t always do what they’re legally required to. If you’re sure a problem is definitely your landlord’s responsibility to fix, you can take these steps:

  1. Report the problem to your landlord, and encourage them to meet their responsibilities. It’s usually best to resolve issues informally like this if you can.
  2. Report your landlord to the Safer Housing team at the council. An inspector may be sent round to assess your home for health hazards
  3. Take them to court. If you win your case you could get compensation, but be aware that court proceedings can often be expensive and stressful. You can only get legal aid for cases about the condition of your home if it is a danger to your health. Contact The Law Centre for more information.

I am worried about eviction –

Whether or not your landlord needs to have a particular reason to evict you depends on how you occupy your home:

  • Lodgers – your landlord doesn’t need a reason to evict you and can just ask you to leave.
  • Private tenants (with an assured shorthold tenancy) – your landlord doesn’t need a reason to evict you, but they must send you the correct documentation (called a ‘section 21 notice’) and follow the correct procedure.
  • Tenants with other kinds of tenancy agreement. In this case your landlord needs to show that their reason for evicting you is one of the reasons set out in the law (called ‘grounds for possession’). These could include:
    • You’re behind on paying your rent (in arrears).
    • You, people who live with you, or your guests have behaved in an antisocial or criminal way (such as regularly playing loud music or dealing drugs).
    • You’ve allowed the property to get into disrepair because you’ve neglected go ahead with evicting her.

If your landlord does start eviction proceedings then it’s very important to get professional housing advice, we can get advice from the Safer Housing.