Shelter, a homeless charity, has recently launched a campaign to target landlords who take advantage of their tenants. They are urging the government to enforce pre-existing laws such as deposit protection schemes and fines for landlords who do not comply with standards of conduct.

As well as working towards the strengthening of laws against landlords, Shelter are also raising awareness about methods used by landlords to scam tenants in an attempt warn students about potential dangers when choosing their house.

We’ve all heard the horror stories about student accommodation; damp, leaky roofs, rattling windows, even loss of electricity or hot water.

Students are particularly vulnerable to extortion from untrustworthy landlords due to limited options of properties to rent and financial constraints make them more willing to settle for sub-standard properties.

Insubstantial knowledge of the processes involved with renting and of tenants’ rights can mean students are falsely led into paying ‘hidden charges’ and are even refused the return of their deposit.

Another common scam documented is landlords refusing deposits and insisting on guarantors and then fabricating costly ‘repairs’ at the end of the tenancy.

Moulsecoombe and Bevendean (two areas of Brighton with high levels of student accommodation) are represented by labour Councillor Leigh Farrow.

At a recent council meeting, Farrow sought assurances from Brighton and Hove council that they would be backing Shelter’s campaign to protect tenants from rogue landlords.

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavillion, has been in contact with Housing Minister, Grant Shapps about introducing a website where tenants can provide feedback about their landlord’s conduct.

As controlling this issue is a slow process, prevention may be the best cure, so students should proceed with caution when they consider renting a property.

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