When living in a rented property you should be aware of your tenants rights. Understanding your rights and what your landlord can and cannot do will avoid any problems during the course of your tenancy.
The law on renting tries to strike a balance between the rights of the landlord and the tenants rights to ensure that both parties are treated fairly.
Within a rented property, tenants rights include;
- To live in a property that is safe and in a satisfactory condition – Landlords are responsible for carrying out any repairs in the property
- To live in the property and not be disturbed – Landlords are not permitted to continuously visit the property while you are living there. If they need to attend for some reason like carrying out a repair or to conduct an inspection, they must give you at least 24 hours notice. The visit must also take place at a reasonable time. The only exception to this rule is if they need to visit the property to carry out an emergency repair.
- Know who your landlord is – If you are not sure who your landlord is you have a right to ask the letting agent for the landlords full name and address.
- Challenge charges – In some rented properties your utilities will be part of your rent. However, landlords can sometimes charge excessive amounts. If you think that your charges are too high, you can challenge the landlord and ask them for a full explanation of how the charges are calculated.
- View an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – These certificates show how energy efficient your rental property is and what the typical energy costs are for running the property.
- Safeguards against unreasonable increases in rent or unfair eviction – If a landlord wishes to evict you either because they want the property back or for some other reason there are processes they must follow. There are also regulations on how much they can increase your rent.
- Written tenancy agreement for more than 3 years – In the majority of cases you don’t have a right to receive a written tenancy agreement. However, where a tenancy is for more than three years, you are legally entitled to receive a written copy of your agreement.
- Return of your deposit – When you start a tenancy you will be expected to pay a deposit, sometimes known as a bond. This deposit may be placed into a deposit protection scheme and returned to you at the end of the tenancy once the landlord has inspected the property.
When you agree to let a property a tenancy agreement will be drawn up and signed by you and the landlord. This agreement will give you permission to live in the property for a certain period of time, usually 6 or 12 months in exchange for monthly or weekly rental payments. The agreement may also outline what you are permitted to do in the property while you are there, such as decorating or putting pictures up.
A tenancy agreement doesn’t necessarily have to be in writing, it can be verbal, but it is recommended that you have something in writing so if any problems arise you have a record of what you have both agreed to.
There are certain pieces of information that should be included in a tenancy agreement including;
- The names of the tenant, landlord and where applicable the letting agent
- The address of the rental property
- The amount of rent payable and how often this is due and the amount of the deposit or bond
- How the rent is paid
- What process the landlord will use if they wish to increase the rent
- What bills you are liable for
- How your bond or deposit will be protected during the course of your tenancy
- Situations where money can be deducted from your deposit
- The start and end date of the tenancy
- Any fixtures and fittings included in the property at the start of the tenancy including white goods
- Any specific responsibilities of the landlord or tenant during the tenancy
Tenants Rights and Property Repairs
Landlords are responsible for;
- Any structural issues that may be presented in the property such as issues with the roof, external walls or windows
- Fittings such as sinks, baths and toilets in addition to drains and pipes
- Heating system and hot water
- Gas appliances – If your rental property has any gas appliances these must be serviced on a yearly basis and a gas safety certificate issued. Tenants should receive a copy of this.
- Ventilation to the property including flues and chimneys
- All electrics and wiring
If you discover something in your property that falls into one of the above categories and it needs repairing, you should notify the letting agent. If the problem is dangerous it is important that you notify them immediately it is important you understand your tenants rights.
Ending Your Tenancy
If you would like to leave the property you will need to give your landlord sufficient notice. Your notice period will often be included in your tenancy agreement. Notice can be anything from a week to a month or more.
There are also rules surrounding what type of tenancy agreement you have. For a fixed term tenancy, you are free to leave the property at the end of the term without giving notice although out of courtesy it is recommended that you let your landlord know that you intend to leave to give them the opportunity to market the property and find a new tenant once you have left.
If you want to leave the tenancy before the end of your fixed term you may do so by exercising what is known as a ‘break clause’ or if your landlord allows you to leave early. Otherwise they may request that you pay the rent until the end of the fixed term period or until they find a new tenant whichever is sooner.
If your landlord wants to end your tenancy, they also have rules that they have to follow. Where you have an assured shorthold tenancy which is the most popular type of agreement, they do not have to provide a reason, but they must go through the right procedure if they want to take their property back.
A landlord must give you written notice of at least two months and they should inform you why they would like you to leave and the date of your last day at the property. This date must also be at least six months after you moved into the property.
Knowing your tenants rights and responsibilities in relation to renting a property can avoid problems when renting a property. Tenant’s rights are there to offer a level of protection and ensure that renting a property is successful for both the landlord and tenant.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.