Losing the landlord lottery

Published

George Binning

It is so often the case that International Students lose out in complications with their accommodation; for one thing they are not familiar with British law, and can be easily misled; secondly, any savvy landlord will know that these students will have to return to their home countries in a matter of months, and often will be unable to pursue any sort of legal action.

Students in general are vulnerable to being ripped off by a whole selection of businesses. Most do not have the time or means to take action and many lack confidence in their own legal standings; if told they haven’t a legitimate leg to stand on then many will believe it. The situation is worsened by ill-informed advice being issued by quasi-knowledgeable friends, such as witholding final rent payments as a casual method of forcing action from a landlord (something that should not be considered in all but the most dire situations).

This is where the Advice Centre comes into play; it should be the first port of call for students encountering legal difficulties.

What you can read in these pages is only the tip of the iceberg – the deposit story is the fourth accommodation issue we have chased this week alone. The problem of bent landlords and letting agents is widespread, and worryingly common in Glasgow. However, it is usually very difficult to prove that any actual crime has been committed, therefore very difficult to legitimately expose these crimes in print.

A number of these scams exploit loopholes in the law: as there is no protection scheme for tenancy deposits, the law is on the agents’ side.
A letting agent can, for example, change its name, therefore becoming a different company, but remain registered to the same address and offering the same flats. In this instance any deposits they have decided to hold on to can be kept, because they are a different business to the one that first took the deposit.

Guardian believes accommodation to be an important issue to students, and as such, expect to see it feature again within these pages.