Guide to tenants rights
There are huge amount of rented households in the UK; majority of which are privately rented and the rest are socially rented.
With an increasing number of people opting to rent rather than buy, it is important that tenants are aware of their rights, not only so they can ensure they’re meeting their responsibilities, but also so they know what is and isn’t acceptable from landlords and can challenge if they know their rights.
Of the millions of tenants in the UK, the vast majority are satisfied with their accommodation, but there are still a number of unscrupulous landlords taking advantage of vulnerable people. In this guide, we look at what rights you have as a tenant.
Entry to the property
Landlords are allowed to visit the property, but they must have a valid reason and arrange a suitable time with the tenant with at least 24 hours’ notice, except in an emergency. Most lettings agents will visit the property every three or six months to inspect everything is in order, but again, this appointment should be arranged with the tenant, so no unexpected visits should happen.
Increasing the rent
Landlords are allowed to increase the rent, but the frequency depends on the type of tenancy agreement the tenant has signed. With a rolling or periodic tenancy, the landlord is usually restricted to raising the rent no more than once a year, and with a fixed-term tenancy, the rent cannot be raised until the end of the term, unless the tenant gives permission. When the rent is raised, it must be in line with other rates in the area.
The property must be in good order, as well as being a healthy and safe environment for tenants to live in. This means that the property should have working utilities, including running water, as well as a gas and/or electricity supply. If there is a gas supply, the landlord is also responsible for providing annual gas boiler checks and gas safety checks, and electrical appliances must be certified as safe. The property should also have sufficient heating and lighting.
When tenants pay a deposit to the landlord or letting agent, usually equivalent to one or two months’ rent, it must be protected by the Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) Scheme. Tenants can and should ask for a receipt. This ensures that the deposit is kept safe and can be returned in full at the end of the tenancy, provided the property is in the same condition as it was when it was let out, aside from wear and tear.
If there is damage to the property or furniture, the landlord is obliged to keep all or part of the deposit. In the event that tenants feel their deposit is being unfairly withheld, the organiser of the TDP can resolve the dispute. To try and prevent any disputes, tenants should request a detailed inventory, including state and condition, be completed and approved by both parties at the start and end of the tenancy.
Eviction & ending the tenancy
The tenancy agreement will provide details on how much notice each party needs to give to end the tenancy. For an assured short hold tenancy, there is usually a fixed term of six or 12 months, within which time the landlord cannot regain possession of the property. In the event that there is no fixed term, or it has lapsed into a periodic tenancy, the landlord can request the tenant leaves with two months’ notice in writing, but the tenant only needs to give one month’s notice to leave.
Landlords cannot physically force tenants to leave the property, nor can they harass tenants to leave. If there is a dispute regarding leaving the property, the landlord will likely need to get a court order to avoid breaking the law.
Landlords are also prohibited from changing the locks without providing a new set of keys, butting off utilities, neglecting the property, and threatening tenants.
Responsibilities of the tenant
Tenants of private and local authority properties do have rights to protect them, but they also have a number of responsibilities. Failure to keep up with these responsibilities could result in the tenancy agreement being cancelled.
Adhere to the tenancy agreement
The tenancy agreement is a legal document so it is important that tenants do not break any of the clauses, such as failing to pay rent on time, keeping pets, redecorating, sub-letting rooms, and lighting candles.
Maintain the property
While the landlord is responsible for the structure of the building, it is the tenant’s responsibility to keep it in good order by clearing rubbish, gardening, changing light bulbs, and cleaning.
Pay for damage
Accidents do happen and tenants can end up damaging property, but whether it was intentional or not, the tenant is responsible for paying for any damage. This is most likely to be deducted from the deposit at the end of the tenancy. However, the tenant is not responsible for wear and tear.