It is always helpful to know your rights when you live in private rented property
If you don’t, your landlord could take you for a ride
Check out my ‘tenant’s rights UK’ guide for all of your rights and find out how to report problem landlords
Whether you have a written or verbal tenancy agreement, it is still legal. However, verbal tenancy can be hard to enforce.
Who is my landlord?
Your landlord may deal with your personally or you may deal with a letting agency who will manage the tenancy.
Your landlords details may be on your tenancy agreement.
If you do not know the identity of the landlord, you can write to the person who last collected your rent, asking for your landlord’s full name and address. You should send this letter by recorded delivery and keep a copy. If the person to whom you have written does not reply within 21 days, this is a criminal offence. You can inform the Tenancy Relations Officer of the local authority, who can prosecute the person who has failed to provide the information.
Dealing with a letting agency
Letting agencies can help you find a rental property, some letting agencies may manage the property during your tenancy agreement. They will arrange any repairs or issues you have during your tenancy.
Paying the rent
It is your responsibility to pay the rent, not the landlords responsibility to collect the rent.
Can the landlord come into the property when he wishes?
Your landlord has a right to reasonable access to carry out repairs. What ‘reasonable access’ means depends on why your landlord needs to get access. For example, in an emergency, your landlord is entitled to immediate access to carry out any necessary work.
Landlords should always ask for your permission and should give you at least 24 hours notice.
Who should repair the property?
As a tenant, you have the right to have your home kept in a reasonable state of repair by the landlord. However, you also have to look after it.
General wear and tear is a landlords responsibility on items that were already in the property when you moved in.
If a landlord does not do repairs and you believe he should, contact your local environmental health department who will come and inspect the property and they will contact the landlord directly to get the repairs done.
My landlord harasses me
It is an offence for your landlord to do anything which they know is likely to make you leave the home or prevent you from exercising your legal rights. This would include, for example, repeatedly disturbing you late at night or obstructing access to the home, creating noise, disconnecting supplies of water, gas or electricity where your landlord knows that this is likely to drive you out or discourage you from insisting on your legal rights.
If you are subjected to harassment, the matter should be reported to the Tenancy Relations Officer of the local authority or to the police.
When renting accommodation, it’s against the law for a landlord to harass you because of your disability, gender reassignment, race or sex. Harassment can include both actions and language that you find offensive.
Can the landlord sell the property when I am still living there?
It is possible for your landlord to sell the property with you still living there. In these circumstances, you may be referred to as a ‘sitting tenant’.
When the property is sold, the new landlord would ‘step into the shoes’ of your old landlord and the terms of your tenancy agreement continue. The tenancy agreement is still valid even though the landlord’s name is out of date.
You have the right to know who the new landlord is.
Your new landlord may ask you to sign a new tenancy agreement but they can’t make you do so. However, if you don’t sign it and you have a fixed term assured shorthold tenancy, they could give you notice to leave at the end of that fixed term.
If you don’t sign a new agreement and you have a periodic assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord could give you two months’ notice to leave.
What is the law surrounding overcrowding?
A home is overcrowded if:-
- there are more than the ‘permitted number’ of people living there. The ‘permitted number’ will depend on the size of the accommodation; or
- two or more people of the opposite sex aged ten or over, who are not living together as husband and wife, have to sleep in the same room.
The local authority can, in certain circumstances, prosecute both the landlord and the occupier of an overcrowded home.
Electrical appliance supplied by the landlord
Your landlord is responsible for ensuring that any electrical appliances supplied with the accommodation are safe. This includes heaters, cookers, kettles, and any other electrical goods.
If you are concerned that an electrical appliance is not safe, you could contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on: 0845 404 0506.
The same goes for the gas appliances. Your landlord must arrange and pay for safety checks and any necessary work to be carried out on appliances at least once every twelve months. The checks must be carried out by a person who is registered with the Gas Safe Register.
What is wear and tear?
Over time, most household furniture and contents deteriorate as a result of normal use, for example, floor coverings will become worn. This is known as ‘wear and tear’, and you would not be responsible for replacing these items.
If the extent of the wear and tear means that it causes a hazard, for example, springs in an armchair begin to stick through the upholstery, your landlord should repair or replace such items.
If your landlord has supplied an appliance such as a cooker or a washing machine that was working as the beginning of the tenancy, they have a responsibility to repair or replace it if it breaks down, unless this is the result of your negligence.
Will I get the deposit back at the end of my tenancy?
If you paid a deposit to your landlord at the start of a tenancy as security for any rent arrears or damage to property, this should be returned at the end of the tenancy if the accommodation has been left in good condition and there are no arrears.
If your landlord refuses to return the deposit or makes deductions, you should check the terms of the tenancy agreement or the agreed inventory (if there was one) to see what the deposit was supposed to cover. In cases of damage to property, it will often be cheaper for you to make good the damage before your landlord comes to inspect the property than for your landlord to charge for the cost of getting repairs done.
If you paid the deposit before 6 April 2007, and your landlord has refused to return it, you may have to take action in the county court to get it back. However, if you have an assured shorthold tenancy and paid your deposit from 6 April 2007, or renewed your tenancy since that date, your landlord must use a tenancy deposit protection scheme. This means your deposit is safeguarded and there are procedures not involving the court that can be used to sort out problems about the deposit at the end of the tenancy.
All advice from personal experience or Citizens Advice.
If you need ant tenancy problems which you would like to talk to someone about, contact Citizens Advice who will be able to help.