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You are here:home > Living > Housing > Housing and Money solutions > Housing advice > Housing Advice FAQs

Housing Advice FAQs

For the answers to our most frequently asked questions, please see the links below.

Frequently asked questions - general housing advice

1. Housing Benefit has stopped and I am having problems getting it paid, and my landlord/lady now wants me to leave what must I do to sort it out?

You need to contact Housing Benefit or visit Gateway to find out why your benefit has stopped. It is strongly recommended that you make contact with your landlord/lady as soon as possible and tell them that you are sorting out the problem. If you landlord/lady still wants you to leave then you will need to make contact with Housing Advice for our assistance.

2. I am disabled what changes can I ask the landlord/landlady to make to my accommodation?

You can ask your landlord/landlady to make certain changes to the property or to alter a term of your tenancy agreement to help you live there.  These changes are known as reasonable adjustments and as such should your landlord/landlady refuse could be breaking the law by discriminating against you unless it’s a good reason for example, on health and safety grounds. What is reasonable will depend on individual circumstances so your landlord/lady doesn’t have to take any steps that involve major alterations such as a concrete ramp but may supply a temporary one.

Follow 'Advice guide' on disability discrimination. advice >

3. I am looking for privately rented accommodation in Southampton.

There are a range of different sources you can try in Southampton which include: Southern Daily Echo, Shop notice boards, Letting Agents, The Southern Property Advertiser, Friends, work mates and relatives, Internet Access.

See Find a property.

4. I am worried about paying my mortgage.

You need to talk to your lender as soon as possible to consider the following possibilities.  Avoiding this could make your lender less willing to co- operate with you if your situation worsens.

• Ask your lender to see if you can extend your mortgage term to spread the payments over a longer period.  This will reduce the monthly payments although it will mean it will take longer to pay off.
• If you think your financial difficulties will be short term see if your mortgage agreement allows for a short break in payments to give you some breathing space.
• Make an arrangement to pay off the arrears even if it’s only a very small amount or see if your lender will agree to add your arrears to the total sum borrowed.
• Ask your lender to see if they will allow you to switch to interest only payments until your finances are more stable, as this will reduce your monthly payments.

5. I am struggling to pay my rent/have rent arrears. What should I do?

You must act immediately otherwise you risk loosing your accommodation.

• Speak to your landlord and tell him/her. Don’t ignore it.  A landlord/lady is less likely to evict you if you’re making a real attempt at finding a solution.
• Arrange to pay any rent arrears back in instalments over time. Always ask for a receipt to show you've paid it.
• Any arrangement you make you should try to get in writing or make a note of your conversation with dates.
• If you are on a low income you maybe entitled to claim Housing Benefit.

If as a result of your rent arrears you have been asked to leave the property then you will need to contact Housing Advice for our assistance.

6. I cannot afford the full rent on my accommodation what benefits can I claim?

Housing benefits

7. I have been asked to leave my accommodation what should I do?

Talk to your landlord/lady and find out why they want you to leave.  If it’s a misunderstanding between you it may be an opportunity to discuss it to see if can be resolved.  If they still want you to leave then you can contact Housing Advice for our assistance.

8. I have debt/s and I cannot pay them

Please follow the links provided for 'national debt line' and 'advice guide'. See also Multikulti for information, advice, guidance and learning materials in community languages.

9. I have received a Claim for possession from the county court because I have not paid my rent. What can I do?

If you do not pay your rent, the landlord has a legal right to ask a court to evict you. If you have received a claim for possession and want to try and stay in your home then you must act quickly. If you cannot afford to pay your rent because you have a low income, you may be able to get some help with the payments by claiming housing benefit. If you can afford to pay your rent and pay a little extra towards any arrears, you should talk to your landlord. The landlord may be willing to make an agreement with you and stop the court action. It is important that you make the agreed payments regularly.

If the landlord will not agree to accept your payments, you should reply to the claim and attend the court hearing. If you can make a reasonable offer of payment, the court may accept it and allow you to stay in your home. If the court does not agree to your offer you will be given a date when you will have to leave your home. The costs of the court hearing will also be added to the rent that you owe the landlord.

10. I need to get away from domestic violence where can I get help?

Domestic violence can include physical abuse, sexual assault and verbal threats.  It can also include more subtle attacks, such as constant breaking of trust, isolation, psychological games and harassment.  It can affect partners in all types of relationships and can also involve violence between parents and children. If you are in an abusive relationship, there are three important steps you can take:
• Recognise that it is happening to you
• Accept that you are not to blame
• Get help and support 

See Multikulti for information, advice, guidance and learning materials in community languages.

11. My landlord/lady is refusing to carry out repairs to my accommodation.

The first step is to tell your landlord/lady about what needs repairing and put it writing. If this is ignored then you can take the following action:

 - You can take action yourself, which may include taking the landlord/lady to court to get the repairs done.  It may be possible to claim for damages.
 - You can ask the council to inspect he property and take action requiring the landlord to do the repairs.

See also private sector housing 'house conditions'.

12. My Landlord/lady is refusing to return my deposit.

Since 6 April 2007 landlords have a legal responsibility to protect their tenants' deposits. For more information please visit 'Deposit protection scheme'.

If you paid a deposit to your landlord/lady before this date and your landlord/lady is refusing to return it without giving you adequate reasons, you will need to write to your landlord/lady asking them to return it to you stating your reasons why you consider it to be unreasonably held.

If they do not respond then it may become necessary to claim your deposit back by using the County Court Small Claims procedure.

13. My landlord/lady or someone acting on his/her behalf is harassing/threatening me. What can I do about it?

Harassment is a serious criminal offence and can take on a number of different forms.  It can range from interfering with your post, threatening behaviour towards you, disconnecting your services – gas, electricity and water, turning up at the property without warning or letting themselves into your home without your permission.

Write to your landlord/lady asking them to stop their behaviour and telling them that you will take legal action if their behaviour continues.
• Keep notes or a diary of events of what is happening.
• Try and get the behaviour witnessed.
• Seek further advice from the Council, a solicitor or advice centre.

If your landlord has changed the locks on your accommodation or physically removes you and your possessions from the property then this could be an illegal eviction depending on the type of tenancy you hold.  This is a criminal offence under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
Contact Housing Advice at the Council, we may be able to prevent the eviction or reinstate you back into your home by negotiating with your landlord.  In some cases we will investigate the eviction for the purpose of considering a prosecution against your landlord/lady.
You can take your landlord/lady to Court - a solicitor may be able to obtain an injunction ordering the landlord/lady to let you back in. In some cases compensation can be awarded for financial loss.

Some illegal evictions can take place after office hours. You will need to call the police and contact the Council at your first opportunity.

14. My neighbours are being noisy, what can I do about them?

If you have noisy neighbours, there are steps you can take to try and deal with the problem.

Try talking to them in the first place.  They might not even be aware that they are making a noise.  Make sure that you all the facts.  Perhaps keep a log of events or a diary as to what time the noise is taking place, where it’s coming from, what sort of noise is it eg. Shouting or music.  It may resolve the problem without having to involve anyone else.
If this fails to work and the property is rented you can take your complaint to their landlord.

If all else fails you will need to contact Environmental Health Public Health Team who will deal with noise nuisance.  Normally they will give practical advice on what can be done and may serve a legal notice on the neighbour.

15. My partner and I are splitting up, can I stay in the property?

If you have split up with your partner or want your partner to leave your housing rights will depend on the following:

• the kind of tenancy you have
• your relationship status
• whether you own your home

Because the law in this situation is complicated, we recommend you get legal advice. Follow the link provided to 'Citizens Advice'. Further information from the Government's web site here. See also citizens advice here

16. My tenancy has come to an end do I have to leave?

You only have to leave your accommodation if your landlord has formally ended your agreement in writing.  This might be a letter or a more formal legal notice.  If the fixed term of your agreement has ended you do not have to leave as the tenancy will simply carry on from month to month or until either you or your landlord choose to end it.

17. Where can I get further information?

18. Who is responsible for repairs to my privately rented accommodation?

Depending on the type of tenancy that you hold, your landlord will be responsible for major repairs to the property such as the walls, roof, external doors and windows. They are also responsible for sinks, baths, toilets and other sanitary fittings, including pipes and drains, heating and hot water gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation electrical wiring.
You will also be responsible to keep the property reasonably clean and not damage the property or allow other guests to. You will need to carry out minor maintenance such as checking smoke alarm batteries or changing light bulbs.  You should inform your landlord of any disrepair issue as they arise to ensure that they can be attended to.
Your landlord has the right to reasonable access to your accommodation to carry out repairs.

Contact information