A rogue landlord has lost a legal battle against his former student tenant.
The university student, Meg Cole, from Cardiff, took her landlord to court after discovering he was operating illegally.
She was living in an eight-bedroom house in multiple occupation (HMO) in the Selly Oak area of Birmingham while studying at the university.
Cole and her housemates found a number of issues with the house right from the beginning when they moved in, in July 2019.
There were a number of notes, which previous tenants had hidden around the home warning of the landlord’s “rogue behaviour” and problems with the property, including ants’ nests and mould in bedrooms.
Cole said: “It wasn’t fun at all living in the house. The pandemic meant most of us only lived there between September and March but in that six-month period we had so much dodgy stuff happen.”
The tenants later discovered that the property they were living in did not have an HMO license.
Cole and her housemates reported the issue to Birmingham City Council, who then carried out an assessment of the house. They found that one of the living room walls was around 90% damp.
Birmingham City Council advised the tenants that they could apply for a Rent Repayment Order (RRO) and that they can claim back a maximum of 12 months’ rent.
Going through this process inspired Cole to write her dissertation on her experiences and research on housing policy.
She commented: “I’m a bit of nerd when it comes to academic research. There’s a lot on social housing and homelessness but not HMO housing and the private rental sector so I realised there was a research gap that could be explored and expanded upon.
“There seems to be an acceptance that rented housing is poor quality and we have to live with it.”
A spokesperson from the National Residential Landlords Association told the press: “Landlords have a clear responsibility to provide safe homes for renters. Addressing the problem of rogue landlords is a necessary step towards the building of a private rented sector which is fair and works for all.
“Local authorities have a range of powers at their disposal to address sub-standard accommodation, including civil penalties, the serving of improvement notices and taking over the management of properties.
“In our view these powers need to be used effectively so that criminal operators who bring the wider landlord community into disrepute can be dealt with in the appropriate way.”