How The Hell Do You Complain About Your Landlord Without Losing Your Home?

With the renting market as competitive as it is, how do you actually complain about your landlord without them just chucking you out?


by Sophie Cullinane |
Published on

Another day, another bat-shit crazy landlord story. This time, it’s a beyond-creepy landlord in China who allegedly installed a two-way mirror in the bathroom and spy cameras in the bedroom of a property he was letting out to female tenants in order to perve on them without their consent. Grim.

Lok Kung, 50, advertised online for ‘single young women’ tenants to rent rooms in the guest house he owns in the Haidian District of Beijing, China. He has been accused of setting up two pinhole cameras in a room shared by six girls and a two-way camera behind a large bathroom-facing mirror in the bathroom.

One of his horrified tenants, 25 year-old Wen Tsou, said: ‘There were six of us girls and we were told we would have to share a room, which is fairly common. But then one of our roommates unexpectedly found nude pictures of us on one of his social media accounts where he had posted them.

‘She told us about it and it was obvious that he must have been spying on us as the only places they could have come from were the bathroom and the bedroom. We were furious and wanted to confront him about it, but decided to report it to the police instead. We then all moved out.’

Obviously, this is a really extreme case (plus, it’s completely illegal) – but it’s worrying just how many of us have had a creepy incident with their landlord. And how powerless we often feel to do anything about it.

I know that within my own social group of women in their 20s renting in London, almost all of us have had some kind of incident where a landlord has made us feel extremely uncomfortable. My (thankfully now ex) landlord used to let himself into my house – and into my room, where I was changing – without any warning.

This was despite repeatedly telling him that this was unacceptable and putting a written statement in our tenancy agreement stating that he had to give us two days’ warning before coming round.

Another friend came home after work one evening to find her landlord rooting through her underwear drawer – again, having let himself if without any prior warning. A third friend was asked intimate details about her sex life in a string of emails sent by her landlord. When she accused him of harassment, she was given her marching orders with only two weeks’ notice because that was all that was required in her tenancy agreement.

**READ MORE: Here’s How You Can Make It Illegal For Your Landlord To Evict You For Complaining About Something **

And that’s the crux of the issue, isn’t it? With the rental market as competitive as it is, it feels like landlords can evict us at the drop of a hat for making even completely reasonable complaints. What can we do?

‘Nobody should have to live in a home that puts their health and well-being at risk, let alone face eviction just for asking their landlord to fix a problem,’ Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb told The Debrief.

‘Yet every day, we hear from people up and down the country living in fear that damp or gas and electrical hazards are putting them in danger, but feeling powerless to do anything about it. This has to stop. With a bill to end revenge evictions going through parliament next month, we now have a real chance to change the law and protect renting families.

‘We’re calling on people across the country to email their MPs and ask them to vote to end this unfair practice once and for all.’

Shelter is keen to point out that each case is different in terms of what you can do, but they do offer clear advice about what lanlords are entitled to do:

  • Landlords may need access to the property to inspect it and do repairs but they must let you live in your home without unnecessary interference. Landlords can’t come into your home whenever they feel like it, and they should give you reasonable notice and arrange a suitable time if they need to visit. The amount of notice they have to give might be set out in your agreement

  • If you’re worried about your landlord coming into your home without permission, get advice. Use Shelter’s directory to find a local advice centre

  • If you don’t want your landlord visiting without your permission, you may even be able to change the locks. If you do decide to change the locks, keep the old ones and put them back in, undamaged, when you leave the tenancy

  • Your landlord, or anyone employed by them, should not harass you in your home, or make it difficult for you to stay there, for example, by entering your home without your permission or visiting at unsuitable times, or stopping you from using all the rooms or using the water or electricity

  • If the landlord persists, it may be classed as harassment, and the landlord could be fined or imprisoned for this

It looks like with all of these things, it’s important to get as much advice as possible before you assume your landlord can just chuck you out. Let’s all keep our figures crossed for the bill, but in the meantime maybe changing the locks isn’t such a bad idea?

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophieculliane

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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