If you rent a home from a private landlord, it’s important that you are aware of your legal tenants rights. These rights are in place to ensure that you are protected and that landlords do not take advantage of tenants or treat them unfairly in any way.
There are certain tenants rights you have if you are renting a private property which include:
- To live in a property that is safe and in a satisfactory condition
It’s your landlords responsibility to ensure that the property is a safe place to live and that’s it’s well maintained. If there are any repairs required they need to be completed within a reasonable timeframe. Things like having: sufficient heating, ventilation, lighting, security and gas and water appliances are all within your tenants’ rights to have.
- Know who your landlord is and be able to contact them
You need to be able to contact your landlord for things likes repairs or emergency therefore it’s important that you have a direct way to communicate with them. If for whatever reason you do not know who the landlord is then contact the person who you pay the rent to.
- Live in the property without disturbances from your landlord
Your landlord cannot turn up at the property whenever they want. If they wish to visit the property for repair work or an inspection they must give you 24 hours’ notice and they must arrange the visit at a reasonable time. The only exception to this is if they need to undertake any emergency repairs where your safety is involved, in which case they can access the property immediately.
- Be protected from unfair rent increases and unfair eviction
Your landlord has to follow certain rules in regards to rent increases if they wish to evict you. If they fail to do this then it’s your tenants’ rights to take legal action against them.
- See the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property
Every property had an energy efficiency rating and this what an Energy Performance Certificate will show you along with the typical energy costs for the property.
- Written tenancy agreement for a fixed-term tenancy for more than three years
If you are in a fixed-term tenancy lasting longer than three years then you have the legal right to receive your tenancy agreement in writing.
- Challenge any charges which are excessively high
In some privately rented properties you may pay your landlord for the energy you use. However, if you think you are being overcharged then you have the right to challenge your landlord on this. You are absolutely within your tenants’ rights to ask them for an explanation on how the charges for energy are being worked out.
- Have your deposit returned when your tenancy ends
When your tenancy ends and your are leaving the property the landlord has to inspect the property and as long as there is no damage your deposit should be paid back in full. Your landlord cannot keep your deposit or even part of your deposit without good reason. In most cases landlords have to put your deposit in a protection schemewithin 30 days of receiving it. These government-backed schemes ensure tenants get their deposit back if they have:
- Met the terms of the tenancy agreement
- Did not cause any damage to the property
- Paid the rent and bills on time
As long as there are no disputes at the end of your tenancy then you will get your deposit back within 10 days.
Tenants rights are in place for a reason and if you are ever unsure about your rights it’s vital that you seek legal advice.
What to expect by law from your landlord?
Your tenants rights are your legal entitlements when renting however, your landlord also has other legal obligations they must carry out. These vary depending on the type of tenancy agreement you have however there are certain basic rules that they must follow in all tenancy types:
- Check your right to rent
Before you can rent a home, your landlord must check your immigration status and the status of any adult who is living with you.
- Health and safety checks
Your landlord must ensure the property you live in is safe and free from health hazards. This includes gas, electrical and fire safety checks. Also, they must ensure that safety inspections are carried out as and when needed, e.g. gas safety checks need to be done every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- How to rent guide
Your landlord must give you: a copy of the how to rent guide. This guide helps both you and your landlord understand your rights and responsibilities.
- Paperwork protecting your deposit
Once your landlord has taken your deposit you should be given the Tenancy Deposit Scheme paperwork after it’s been processed. This paperwork will state the amount being held and it’s important you keep this safe. If any issues arise at the end of your tenancy regarding the return of your deposit then you have proof that it was paid into a secure scheme and it’s your tenants’ rights to receive it back in full as per the conditions.
What to do if you have a dispute with your landlord?
There are numerous issues that can cause disputes between tenants and landlords including problems like: repairs to the property, withholding deposit and eviction etc. If you have a dispute with your landlord and have not been able to resolve things between yourselves then it’s important you seek legal advice. It’s vital that you’re aware of your tenants’ rights and know where you stand legally if such disputes arise such as:
- Your landlord keeps delaying repair work
If you have reported repair problems to your landlord and they have not done anything about it, even after numerous reminders then you can contact your local councilfor help. Remember, that you don’t have the right to stop paying rent because your landlord isn’t doing repairs as this could lead to eviction.
- Your landlord is withholding your deposit
Once you are at the end of your tenancy and moving out of the property your landlord must return your deposit within 10 days. Tenants should always get their full deposit back unless you damaged the property or did not meet the terms of your tenancy agreement.
- Your landlord is evicting you
Your landlord cannot just tell you to move out and must always give you reasonable notice. Depending on the type of tenancy agreementyou have your landlord must follow certain procedures when they want you to leave the property. There are different types of tenancy agreements such as:
- Assured shorthold tenancies (also known as Fixed Term Tenancy)
- Excluded tenancies or licences
- Assured tenancies
- Regulated tenancies
- Your landlord has sold the property
Your landlord is allowed to sell the property even when you are living in it however, this does not necessarily affect your tenancy. The new owner could potentially keep renting it out, as they would have been aware that the property already has tenants in it. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case and it could mean you may be evicted. Remember, that you still have your tenant rights during a property sale and your landlord cannot just evict you because they want to sell the property.
Whether you are in a dispute with your landlord or whether you are concerned about your legal rights as a tenant, you should always consider getting legal help with any tenants’ rights issue. A lawyer will be able to fully assess the situation and answer any questions you have. It’s important that your legal tenants rights are protected and that you understand where you stand.