Court Case Won! Be Warned!

Jack Simm, a law student at University of East Anglia, won a case against his landlord, a student accommodation provider, for breach of contract. Mr Simm had his deposit and first month’s rent returned to him by Newcastle County Court. The court also ordered that the landlord repay his legal fees.

The purpose built student accommodation is owned by Freedman Project LLP and managed by Estateducation. Mr Simm told the Mirror that his flat was “like a construction site” and that there was “no heating or Wi-Fi, dust everywhere and builders still working in the accommodation”. He prepared a 10-page legal claim against the landlord.

Mr Simm left the property one week after arriving because he said the landlord refused to rectify the situation. The landlord counter claimed for payment of the entire tenancy agreement. The counter claim was dismissed by the court.

My Take

I have seen people in the landlord community taking exception with Mr Simm for bringing this case. I don’t agree. More and more people are renting based on online viewings alone and it is important for people to be able to rely on the information they are given. Landlords that mislead their tenants give a bad name to honest landlords. We should support the courts legitimately holding them to account.

If Mr Simm’s account of his experience is accurate, this is totally unacceptable. Only dishonest and bad landlords need to worry about this ruling. If there are issues with a property such as unfinished construction work, the landlord should disclose this upfront. Don’t mislead your tenants. Always try to under promise and to over deliver, that way you will have an excellent relationship with your tenants.

Well done to Jack Simm for using his education in law to hold what seems to be a bad actor in the property sector to account. Hopefully, this will encourage the very tiny minority of bad landlords out there to clean up their act and take responsibility when they get things wrong.

Lessons for Landlords

Offer your tenants high quality properties and ensure your select high quality tenants. Have a good relationship with your tenants. Disclose, disclose, disclose. If there is something that you would like to be told about the property if you were moving in, tell the prospective tenant about it. Let your customer make an informed choice about moving in to your property and this will help prevent any problems coming up further down the line. If there is going to be a problem with a tenant, make sure it isn’t something that you could have avoided by simply being more upfront.

If there are real problems with the property when a tenant moves in, be willing to offer a refund and an apology. Don’t let it get to court where it will be used by the mainstream media to tarnish your reputation and that of landlords in general.

Holding the industry to a high standard is good for the vast majority of amazing landlords, tenants and the reputation of the sector as a whole. If you are new to property investing, make sure you get the appropriate training so that you understand the standards you need to live up to. Together we can ensure that tenants benefit from the high quality and essential service landlords provide.

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