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Should landlord and tenant law be taught in schools?

School lessonsWe are all expected to know the law, but very few people actually do.

It affects all our lives, governs what we can and cannot do, and one of the main tasks of our government is making it.  Should we not all know a bit more about it?

There is of course a lot of law.

My particular ‘area’ is landlord & tenant law and I think it is very important.

After all we all need a home and it looks as if increasing numbers of people will be renting – often for the whole of their life.

In fact I would go so far as to say that virtually everyone will at some stage of their lives be either a landlord or a tenant – more likely a tenant.

Tenants have many rights – for example relating to repair, their deposit, and the right not to be evicted without a Court Order.  But many tenants don’t know what their rights are, or how to enforce them.

Surely teaching children (probably at 6th form level) a bit about tenants rights, would be of enormous practical use to them?

There is of course the Internet – that big book people can dip into to inform themselves, and I have done a lot with this blog.  I have also written two free courses, one for landlords and one for tenants.

But I still think it would help children’s ‘life skills’ if they could learn a bit about their rights and obligations as landlords or tenants, at school.

What do you think?

About the author

Tessa Shepperson Tessa is a lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law. She runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 12th year) and is also a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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5 Responses to Should landlord and tenant law be taught in schools?

  1. Jamie says:

    No. Housing law changes too rapidly for it to be of use. There are plenty of better sources of information online.

    All children since Generation Y have been brought up with computers and the internet. The Shelter website et al will provide them with much better and up-to-date knowledge.

  2. I disagree Jamie I think it would be tremendously useful, along with a range of other life skills, rather than all this trigonometry BS.

    Of course as you say it changes rapidly and is fiendishly complex but they dont need to know it to Tessa’s level of detail.

    I run regular tenant training workshops for my council, just two hour sessions on the very basics and most of the time even things like “You are responsible for your own housing benefit, not the council” come as revelations.

    I guarantee you would be astonished at much of my regular clients who know nothing of their rights or landlord obligations, never take receipts for rent or deposit, dont know what to do when the boiler breaks down, never open the windows and then accuse the landlord of severe damp problems when it is actually just condensation, move their friends in, move into other accommodation but keep all their furniture in the flat as a storeroom (Hows this for a jaded Friday morning answer? haha – it’s been one of those weeks)

    I used to be head of homelessness for West Wiltshire District Council and we used to go in an do 40 minute Q&A sessions in local schools on what they think would happen to them if they were to be homeless. The answers were truly shocking. They havent got the slightest clue.

    I’m all for tenant training awareness and I think a lot of problems would be avoided if it was to be taught as part of a life skills syllabus in schools, along with balancing your finances, what it means to have a kid, consumer rights, sorting out relationship problems and all the other life skills that seem so sadly lacking.

    Let’s face it 99% of these kids will be tenants for the whole lives unless something changes in our society.

  3. @Jamie you are right about the difficulty of building a school program to teach kids in school. However, I do not think this should be an excuse not to do anything.

    There are some basic concepts that could be taught and explained. Internet could be useful tool – why not have short program that builds on today’s prevalence of internet? They do not need to learn things by heart. They could have topics to research which would not only let them learn some basics but, most importantly, show them where to find the relevant information. Perhaps this is a very simplistic example but that sort of thing could prepare quite a few people to be able to manage their lives better.

  4. Jamie says:

    There are barely enough school hours to teach the basic curriculm, let alone the kind of skills we’re talking about here – which on the whole should arguably be a parent’s responsibility. Basic literacy and numeracy is already a big problem for many children leaving school.

    I want my children to learn that ‘trigonometry BS’ so they can become the civil engineers of tomorrow. Giving children basic maths skills will help them to manage their finances far better than some woolly training on benefits or property law that will be out of date long before before they leave school.

    Children who need the really basic life skills are already being taught them in mainstream education through the provision of special education (although some schools are better than others).

    No Ben, I wouldn’t be astonished at how poorly some people manage their lives; I help some of them almost every day at work. My wife is also responsible for educating children from some of the most abusive and/or deprived families you can possibly imagine.

  5. Anne says:

    I do think landlord tenant law should be taught in schools as well background on bankruptcy, finances and criminal law. If we taught our youth more about the ramifications of possible choices, they would be less likely to make poor ones. A little education can go a long way.



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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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