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UK Legal Requirements on Habitable Room. Please help us :(
20-07-2011, 03:19 PM
Post: #1
UK Legal Requirements on Habitable Room. Please help us :(
Dear All,

We're a group of 4 students from the University of Nottingham. We're planning to rent this 4 persons house approximately 15 minutes walk from the university. We really need some help because we're in quite a tough situation now. We paid our deposit for the house (4*300 pounds) but we're now suspecting that one of the "rooms" our landlord is renting to us isn't legally habitable.

Please see the attached picture. The room is an attic room and from its looks, it was initially built only for storage. The ceiling is really really low (around 1.9m and only 40% of it isn't slanting down) and the windows are really low as well (we literally have to squat down to open them). As I read on the planning portal website for loft conversion regulations, the side opening windows of the room has to be 1.7m above the floor.

We're thinking of getting our deposit back for this room (£300) but the landlord insists that the room is fine and it has been previously occupied by students too.

Can you kindly advice us on what we should do? Also on whether or not this attic room meets the legal requirement of a "habitable room" in the uk. If not, I think what we'll do is that we'll get the local authorities to come and make sure that it's not, then to also have them tell the landlord that it is illegal to be renting this room out and we'll be able to ask him for the deposit for this room.

Thank you so much for reading, any help is greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards,
Benjamin


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20-07-2011, 03:28 PM
Post: #2
RE: UK Legal Requirements on Habitable Room. Please help us :(
I am at a bit of a loss with this one...

FIRSTLY, you paid a deposit. I take it you viewed the property beforehand? Why did the room seem acceptable then?

Your deposits - I take it the Landlord is registered with one of the LEGALLY REQUIRED deposit schemes?

Did you rent through a Lettings Agent? If yes, what did they describe the property as?

Has the room got Planning/ Building Regulations Aproval to be classed as habitable?

Or is it simply that one of you now doesn't want to room with the rest?
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20-07-2011, 03:48 PM
Post: #3
RE: UK Legal Requirements on Habitable Room. Please help us :(
Thanks PeeBee,

You are right, I made a huge mistake paying the deposit without looking at the house personally. I was away from the University doing a year long internship and I left the house viewing task to one of my future housemates (who wasn't aware about what a habitable room should legally be like). So unfortunately, we (the other three of us) committed ourselves into this house by paying the deposit without checking out the house personally. We know we're at fault here but we think the landlord might be at fault here too trying to let out a non-habitable room to students (Probably because he thinks we're not as aware of our rights) Sad

My landlord basically wrote the a note saying "deposit accepted on bla bla" on a piece of note, signed it and passed it to my friend. He said, however, after we sign the house contract with him, he'll then put that deposit into an official deposit scheme.

We found the house under Unipol and we contacted the landlord personally. There is nowhere on the property description saying that the attic room is that small (It in fact said 4 spacious double-bed rooms). Sad If only I knew.

I have not seen any certifications saying that the room is classed as habitable. Can I actually request to see one from the landlord?

It's definitely not one of us that doesn't want to room with the rest. In fact, what we're actually hoping for is that the landlord (who is a house developer himself) to tell us that he'll renovate the room and make it up to the legal standards of a habitable room. *That would be ideal in fact*

Thanks again PeeBee for your reply
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20-07-2011, 04:30 PM (This post was last modified: 20-07-2011 04:39 PM by PeeBee.)
Post: #4
RE: UK Legal Requirements on Habitable Room. Please help us :(
Okay - the Landlord is in breach of the law! He CANNOT take a deposit without registering it with an approved deposit scheme immediately. HOWEVER, am I right in thinking that judging by what you are saying, no Tenancy Agreement has been signed?

If not - what is the 'deposit' for?

You can check with the local authority to see if any works have been carried out to make the loft area habitable - but unless you know when it was supposedly done, then you are on a hiding to nothing there...

What about this Unipol thing - I take it that this is some kind of Gumtree for Students? Would they be prepared to challenge the Landlord if he is advertising a property under a false description?

Trouble is, you have agreed to it. You have a struggle on your hands - however if you walk away at this stage then you only stand to lose the 'deposit' if you have signed nothing - and maybe not even that if you can pressure the landlord to refund. If there was no written terms for the monies you handed obver, then you may well be able to claim it back - but you may need to speak to Citizens Advice or Trading Standards.

Let us know how things pan out...
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21-07-2011, 10:32 AM (This post was last modified: 21-07-2011 10:36 AM by amapws.)
Post: #5
RE: UK Legal Requirements on Habitable Room. Please help us :(
If the building is in multiple occupation ie individual rooms and shared utilities rather than rented out as a household ,And if you all paid separate deposits that would seem to be the case , it is likely that the building has to registered with the LA as a building in multiple occupation. Other rules in addition to the building regs then apply and a licence is required . LA environmental health usualley deals with this but LA,s differ.
In a loft room a safe means of escape and alarms in the event of fire are critical items required to get a licence rather than the size of the from
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21-07-2011, 01:16 PM
Post: #6
RE: UK Legal Requirements on Habitable Room. Please help us :(
Not quite right about the landlord having to protect the deposit immediately.
If the deposit was taken as a holding deposit prior to the tenancy agreement then that is all the deposit is for and it doesn't need to be protected. Once the tenancy agreement is in place then the landlord has 14 days to protect the deposit and forward a copy of the protection certificate to the tenants.

This however I believe only applies to assured short hold tenancy agreements. You can read more on this here http://www.mydeposits.co.uk/tenants

Darren Bell (MCIAT)
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