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The Telegraph's legal expert, Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire of Thompsons Solicitors looks at the sort of problems that can arise if you rent from a private landlord, and advises you on some of the steps you can take to protect your interests.

Before you rent a property from a private landlord check to see if it has been registered with the Council as a multiple occupancy, which should happen if it is let to more than two tenants who are not from the same family.

This registration is a good means of knowing that health and safety standards have been complied with.

One of the most common problems that people encounter when renting privately is difficulty in recovering their deposit when they leave.

This might be legitimate if there are breakages or damage. But if your landlord fails to return all your deposit, or withholds an excessive amount, you should consider taking a court action against him or her.

Small claims in the Sheriff Court are the common route for this and usually you will find the staff very helpful.

Sometimes the house that you rent might not be in a good condition, through dampness, or problems with the water supply or heating system.

As a tenant you have the right to have your home in a good state of repair, so you should tell your landlord about the repair that is required and collect evidence such as photographs or medical reports from your doctor if it is affecting your health.

If the landlord does not carry out the work that you consider necessary you should contact the Environmental Health department at your local authority who may be able to force the landlord to do something, especially if your landlord is a registered social landlord such as a housing association.

You should continue paying your rent whilst you try to get the repairs carried out as your landlord might evict you if you have rent arrears.

Your local citizens advice bureau will have a lot of experience of dealing with private landlord problems, so make them your first port of call.

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