1. What you can expect from us
The Private Housing and Advice Team at the University of London Housing Services (“ULHS”) offers legal advice and support to students, staff of the University of London and staff of certain subscribing Colleges that need assistance with private rented housing. A “College” means any member institution of the University of London, or any other university or college, subscribing to ULHS services.
We will assist you at the earliest possible opportunity and treat you in a kind, courteous and non-judgmental manner that is free from discrimination.
You will be allocated an advisor. If your case continues beyond an initial appointment, you will continue to receive support from the same advisor, subject to availability, who will communicate with you by e-mail and telephone and can arrange further meetings with you, if necessary. Your advisor will give you full and accurate information regarding your case and keep you up-to-date of any developments.
Our advisors are not lawyers, but are experienced and receive regular training in Housing Law. Please refer to part 3 b) of this policy which gives details on the limits of our expertise. The team works closely with an external housing law firm and the team may discuss your case with them. Occasionally we may refer your case directly to our external solicitors for a consultation. This is rare and will normally be in cases of a serious nature and where there is some urgency. However, the decision to make the referral will be at our sole discretion.
In most cases our advisors will offer advice and support to empower you to deal with your housing matter directly. However, where we think it would be beneficial to resolving your case or where we feel you might need some extra assistance, we may be able to make contact with landlords, agents and others on your behalf. The decision on the level of support we offer will be at our discretion. We will not make any contact on your behalf without your permission.
2. What we expect from you
We expect you to:
- Contact us as soon as it becomes apparent you will need advice.
- Attend appointments and be on time. If you are running late you must contact us (we may need to rearrange your appointment if your advisor is no longer able to see you).
- Be honest with your advisor and deal with them in courteous and respectful manner that is free from discrimination.
- Respond promptly to our e-mails and telephone calls and to provide us with any documentation and information requested within a reasonable period of time.
- To follow the advice given by your advisor for as long as you are in receipt of advice from us (and not to act in a way that could be detrimental to your case without first discussing this with us).
- To understand that our advisors are busy helping lots of clients and will rarely be able to respond to you instantly. If your advisor is away and you need assistance, another advisor will assess the case to see whether it needs dealing with before your advisor’s return.
3. Circumstances where we cannot help you
We list below the circumstances in which we will be unable to assist you. In such cases we will aim to provide you with details of alternative advice services. At all times our services are provided at our discretion and we reserve the right to refuse to provide our services at any time.
- Where you are not eligible to access the service because you are either: (i) not a current student (including if you have graduated) of one of our Colleges; or (ii) not a current staff member of the University of London or a College that subscribes to our service for its respective staff members. A full list of our Colleges can be found here: https://housing.london.ac.uk/about-us/who-can-use-ulhs.
- Where the advice you are seeking falls outside our area of expertise. We specialise in advice for private housing tenants and do not have the expertise to advise council or social housing tenants. We do not offer advice to landlords and are also unable to offer advice on any non-housing matters which can include areas that are closely related e.g. issues with council tax, utility providers, debt or benefits. Where you require advice or information on these related areas, you will need to seek advice via an alternative service.
- Where a conflict of interest has been identified. This includes situations where students are living in accommodation owned, managed or allocated by one of the Colleges including University Halls of Residence. In addition, conflicts can arise where, for example, the issue you are seeking advice on relates to a problem with another student or staff member eligible to use the service.
4. Circumstances where we may withdraw access to the service
In exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to withdraw a client’s access to the service depending on the circumstances. In such circumstances we will provide you with a referral to alternative advice agencies.
Some examples of circumstances in which we may withdraw access are:
- If the client fails to comply with any terms of this policy.
- If the client is no longer eligible to access the service because, for example, they have graduated or left a subscribing College.
- If the client has been violent, aggressive, threatening or abusive towards staff or is considered to pose a threat to the safety and well-being of our staff or other clients.
- Where a case puts significant strain/causes stress to an advisor due either to behaviour of a client or an opponent or other person related to the housing case.
- If the client regularly refuses to follow the advice given by their advisor or regularly changes their mind about what they want to do.
- If the client fails to provide the required information needed to progress their case.
- If the client consistently fails to keep appointments or undertake agreed actions without good reason.
- If it is suspected that the client is attempting to mislead the advisor or to defraud a third party.
- If we feel a client is making inappropriate or excessive use of our resources including raising housing issues that we consider to be vexatious or frivolous. This might be where we feel that you are consistently asking advisors to undertake actions that a client could undertake themselves. We have limited resources and aim to allow as many students as possible to use our services. As our resources are finite, we may, at our discretion, place limits on the amount of support we can reasonably be able to provide.
- If we feel that the client’s support needs are more appropriate to another service (e.g. counselling or mediation.)
- If an advisor considers that your case does not have a realistic prospect of success, i.e. less than 50% chance, then we may decide to withdraw services. If you ask us to do so, we will refer your case to our external housing law firm for confirmation that the assessment is accurate.
5. What you can do if you are unhappy about a decision we make
If you are not happy about a decision that we make relating to this policy or any other aspect of the service we deliver, you have the right to complain. Our complaints procedure can be accessed here: https://housing.london.ac.uk/complaints. Alternatively, please ask us for a hard copy.
6. Data Protection and Privacy Statement
ULHS is part of the University of London http://www.london.ac.uk. You can find out more about our privacy policies at the University at the following link: http://www.london.ac.uk/data-protection.html.
Your personal data and this use of service policy
In order for us to manage your request for housing advice, we will need to process your personal data as part of your use of our service.
We will collect from you your contact details, information about your course of study and institution, your disability status (where relevant to your housing needs), your property address with landlord and letting agent details. We may, in some cases, check your eligibility for housing advice by verifying your student status independently with your institution.
ULHS may share relevant data with your landlord and letting agent for the purposes of supporting you in your request for advice.
If you breach the use of service policy for reasons outlined in the section ‘Circumstances where we will withdraw access to the service’ through misconduct or inappropriate behaviour, ULHS will retain this information as part of your record and you may be ineligible for future employment.
How we manage your data
Your data will be stored for the duration of your advice case. Your record will be retained in archive for 6 years before being deleted.
ULHS will carry out reporting and analysis of its clients in order to improve and target its services. This is for overall planning purposes will not result in automated decision making regarding individuals.
ULHS may use a third party ‘data processor’ for certain services, which processes your data on the ULHS’ behalf. If your data is transferred outside the European Economic Area, ULHS will ensure that adequate protection is ensured according to the General Data Protection Regulation.
You have a number of rights in regards to your data, including the right of access, erasure or restriction of processing – for further information please see: http://www.london.ac.uk/data-protection.html.
You have the right to complain to the UK regulator, the Information Commissioner – for further information please see: http://www.ico.org.uk.
Last updated April 2018