Advice for private tenants
Your rights and responsibilities
You have a right to have your tenancy deposit protected. If you paid a deposit on your tenancy when you moved in, your landlord must not spend it. They must register it with one of the three Government approved schemes:
- My Deposits
- Deposit Protection Scheme
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme
You have a right to reasonable market rent. If, during the first six months of your tenancy, you find out that your rent is more than other rents in the area for similar lets, you can apply to a Property Tribunal to ask them to fix a lower rent.
If a fixed term tenancy ends and your landlord offers you a new fixed term at a higher rent, you do not have to accept the new fixed term. However you should think carefully about it as it will give you the right to remain for the new fixed term if you do accept it.
If you don’t have a new fixed term tenancy after the first one ends, your tenancy just rolls on from one rental period to the next. Your landlord can only increase the rent of your periodic tenancy if you reach an agreement about the amount of rent, or if the landlord gives you a formal Landlord’s Notice Proposing a New Rent.
If you think the proposed rent in the Landlord’s Notice is higher than similar properties in your area. You can send the Notice to a Property Tribunal before the date of the proposed increase and ask them to decide your new rent.
If you don't do this, the proposed rent will become the rent that is due from the date given in the notice.
You have a right to get repairs done. Your landlord has a duty to keep the structure and outside of your house in good repair, including drains, gutters and pipes. He or she has a duty to keep all the installations in your home for the supply of water, gas and electricity in good working order.
They must also keep in repair basins, sinks, baths and toilets as well as appliances for heating and hot water.
The landlord should also keep your home free of serious hazards. This includes things that might cause you to fall such as stairs that are too steep or uneven surfaces.
Other hazards include damp, infestations or homes that are hard (or too expensive) to keep warm. A failure to provide adequate locks to doors might be a hazard if there is a risk of intruders.
If the landlord does not sort out the problem, you have a right to ask us to inspect your home and instruct the landlord to put things right.
In addition, you have a right to ask the court to order your landlord to do repairs.
You have a right
- to have all the gas appliances checked. Your landlord must provide you with a Gas Safe record every year certifying that the gas appliances are safe.
- to know how energy efficient your home is. Accommodation should give details of the energy rating with an estimate of the fuel costs when it is advertised and landlords or their agents must give tenants and prospective tenants an energy performance certificate.
- to ask for the terms of your tenancy in writing
- to know the name and address of your landlord - if you make a written request for this information to the person you pay your rent to, they must give it to you within 21 days. This is the address you should use, for example, to give your landlord notice of any repairs needed, notice that you will be taking legal action against him, or notice that you wish to leave. This is so important that the law says no rent is payable until this name and address is provided. Any back rent will then have to be paid.
If you found your home through a letting agency and you don’t think they treated you fairly you have a right to redress. This means you can make a complaint to one of the schemes that the agent is a member of and ask to be compensated. The most common complaint is that the agents charge unreasonable fees.
Other reasons for complaint might be that the agents did not provide truthful information about your new home or that they didn’t provide aneEnergy performance certificate.
Before you act, take advice
You have lots of rights but you do not have very much security. It is not difficult for landlords to get a possession order from the court. If a landlord asks a court to order you to leave at any time after the first six months or at the end of a fixed term, he or she does not have to give any reason. He or she just has to provide evidence that the tenancy is a shorthold tenancy and that the right process has been used to give you at least two months’ notice before he or she applies to court. So if your landlord doesn’t like it when you use your rights, they may be able to evict you.
You need to know about your legal duties as a tenant as well as your rights. As an assured shorthold tenant, you must keep to the terms of your tenancy. The most important term of your tenancy is the rent. You must pay the rent that is due on time.
If you have difficulty paying the rent, get advice as soon as you can. If you have rent arrears you could lose your home.
You must also take reasonable care of your home including the furniture and fittings. If you don’t, the landlord may apply to court for possession and may have a right to keep your tenancy deposit.
You must also make sure that you do not obstruct the shared parts of the house such as landings, stairs and hallway. Bikes, prams, etc must not be placed where they could prevent anyone in the house from making a rapid exit in an emergency.
You must also allow the landlord or agent reasonable access. That means occasional visits to check for any disrepair, and to see that you are looking after the place.
If you have any queries or need help please contact us.