Private housing advice service
Update on private housing advice during the coronavirus emergency
Our private housing advice team are continuing to provide advice over email and by phone. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 02073643558 if you need support.
The government has introduced a range of measures to protect renters. These include a ban on possession proceedings until 20 September 2020. This means no evictions can legally take place at this time. The government has also changed the minimum notice periods tenants receive for evictions from three to six months. This rule will be in place in England until at least 31 March 2021, apart from in cases involving issues such as anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse. More information for private tenants can be found at www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/coronavirushousing and on the government’s website.
The private housing advice service, offers a free, confidential and independent service to people who live in private sector accommodation in Tower Hamlets.
Our main role is to prevent homelessness. The earlier you contact us, the more likely it is we can prevent, or solve, your homelessness issue. Please do not wait until you are actually homeless before contacting us.
The housing advice service can see you if you are a:
- tenant of a private landlord
- tenant of a housing association (also known as a registered social landlord)
- homeowner (but not council leaseholder)
If you are a council tenant with a housing problem that needs attention from the council in its capacity as a landlord, you should contact your neighbourhood housing office, email email@example.com or the relevant service area of the council.
If your housing problem is of a more serious nature – such as being threatened with homelessness - we can give advice to all residents about possible alternative housing options that might be available to them. In some circumstances, we can refer you to schemes that help you with paying rent deposits or rent in advance.
Once you have contacted the housing advice service you will be seen by a Legal Services Commission accredited housing advice officer who will address your issues and advise you on your rights and methods of resolution. It is helpful if you can bring with you any relevant documents or notes relating to your issue(s).
It is a criminal offence for a landlord or an agent to unlawfully evict a residential occupier and offenders can face substantial fines or even imprisonment. A residential occupier can only be evicted by the County Court Bailiff enforcing a possession order.
Failure to follow the legal procedure is a criminal offence, and the local authority can prosecute.
How we can help
The following are examples of frequently asked questions received by the housing advice service. We cannot provide answers to the questions here, as they often depend on your individual circumstances, but we can resolve all of these issues and many more.
- My landlord has asked me to leave
- My landlord lets himself into my property without my permission
- My landlord has threatened to throw me out
- My landlord is refusing to do repairs
- My home has gas appliances which may be dangerous
- I cannot get Housing Benefit or other benefits
- Housing Benefit does not pay the full rent
- I have a problem paying the rent or mortgage, or service charges
- My landlord will not give me my deposit back
- I need help to find somewhere to live
- I don’t have the money for a rent deposit
- I have debts that might make me lose my home
You can also find information on the housing advice service in this booklet we provide;
Housing advice booklet
Information on retaliatory eviction
‘Retaliatory eviction’ or ‘revenge eviction’ is where the Landlord/Agent evicts a tenant because the tenant has complained of disrepair in the property. The Act provides protection for tenants where an s21 notice served by a Landlord/Agent after an Improvement Notice has been served is invalid.
An Improvement Notice is notice from a Local Authority’s Environmental Health Department notifying the Landlord/Agent of the disrepair and works needed to remedy the disrepair within a specified time.
It is important the Landlord/Agent is notified of the disrepair and given opportunity to remedy the situation therefore the Act cannot be relied on if the Landlord/Agent is not notified of the disrepair.
Tenants are advised to follow the steps below before the provisions of the Act can be enforced. These are;
- Inform the Landlord/Agent in writing of the repair issue so the Landlord/Agent is aware of the disrepair and is given opportunity to carry out necessary works. Give reasonable deadline you expect works to be carried out.
- Send a copy of the letter to the Council’s Environmental Health Service
- Contact Environmental Health on 020 7364 5000 once the deadline given to the Landlord/Agent has expired and the Landlord/Agent has not provided you with a schedule of works concerning the disrepair and it appears likely the Landlord/Agent is not prepared to carry out works.
If Environmental Health serves an ‘Improvement Notice’ on your Landlord/Agent asking that the works are carried out by a specified time a s21 Notice served by the Landlord/Agent within 6 months of the date of the Improvement Notice is invalid.
Repair request template letter
Contact Housing Advice on 020 7364 3558 if you need advice about your rights as a tenant.
Nearest tube station: Bethnal Green
Nearest bus routes: 8, D6 (Roman Road), 309 (Globe Road), 106, 254 (Cambridge Heath Road)
You can also make a quick online request for an appointment, and we will be in touch with you to confirm your appointment time.