Rights as a Tenant

Aug 23, 2018

Knowledge Hub / Rights as a Tenant

If you pay a landlord each month to live in a rented flat or home, you are considered a tenant, and as such you are entitled to certain rights and to maintain some responsibilities.

If you pay a landlord each month to live in a rented flat or home, you are considered a tenant, and as such you are entitled to certain rights and to maintain some responsibilities. In some ways you are a customer – you can ask for certain things and can expect high standards for your accommodation. On the other side, you have a responsibility to be a respectful tenant and your actions and behaviours must be in line with the tenancy agreement that you signed.

What Are My Rights? 

As a tenant you are entitled to:

  • Live in a property that is both safe and in a reasonable state of repair.
  • Have your deposit returned to you when your tenancy ends. Depending on what you are renting it might be worth having the deposit protected.
  • Protection against rent increases and high charges.
  • Know exactly who your landlord is, and who they say they are.
  • Live undisturbed by third parties and other tenants (unless you are sharing the house).
  • Have protection from unfair rent and eviction.
  • Have a written agreement if your fixed-term tenancy is more than 3 years.
  • Have a copy of an energy performance certificate.
  • To ask if your pet can stay in the premises.

If you have a tenancy agreement it should be both fair, and comply with the current law. If you are not informed of who your landlord is, you should write to the people, person or company that you are paying rent to. Fines are applicable if your landlord does not give you this information within 21 days.

Starting Your Tenancy Agreement

Once you have commenced your tenancy, whether it is short-term assured, or a standard assured tenancy, your landlord, by law, must give you:

  • Your own copy of the “How to rent guide” if you live in England.
  • The full “tenant information pack” if you are living in Scotland

Your Responsibilities

As a tenant you have rights, but you also have responsibilities. If your landlord requests access to your property, whether to inspect it, or carry out any repairs that need doing, you must let them in. However, they cannot just walk in to the property whenever they want. There are very strict rules that say they must give you at least 24 hours notice before accessing the property that you are living in (see your rights as a landlord).

You Must

  • Pay the rent that has been agreed, even if you believe repairs are needed or have a dispute with the landlord.
  • Pay any other charges that have been agreed with the landlord. This would include council tax and any utility bills.
  • Be sure to take good care of the property that you are letting. For example, be careful not to damage the walls or the carpet and consider turning off the water in the winter if you are going away.
  • Pay for any damage caused by you, or someone you are directly responsible for (children, friends or family members). Be conscious of when you have people over to the home or when socialising or throwing parties.
  • Subletting is only permitted when the tenancy agreement says it is acceptable, or if your landlord agrees.

Your landlord does have the right to take legal action against you, and evict you. However, this can only be done with a valid reason – e.g. you do not meet your responsibilities or cause damage on purpose. They have to give you good notice to find another residence and cannot do this without a clear case.

Assured Tenants

An assured tenant, by definition, will not usually have a landlord that is a resident in the building and they normally do not provide any food or services. If you are an assured tenant you pay rent for accommodation which is occupied as your sole and only home.

Assured tenants include:

  • A person living by himself or herself in a flat.
  • Family living in a rental home.

Below is a list of those that are not assured tenants because they do have a resident landlord, and are fed and have services looked after for them.

  • Students (halls of residence)
  • Holiday let (villa, hotel, hostel, camp, park site).
  • A tenancy provided by the crown
  • Live-in nannies and au-pairs
  • Accommodation provided by the local council because you are homeless
  • Medium-term company let
  • Business premises

What Are My Rights as an Assured Tenant?

As an assured tenant you have the right to remain in your rented property unless the landlord puts together a strong case to the court stating why you should be evicted. Examples of this might include:

  • Paying the incorrect amount of rent.
  • Refusing to pay the full amount
  • Damages to the property
  • Your responsibilities as a tenant are broken
  • Loud noises (parties and gatherings)
  • Illegal dealings happening in the property

At the same time, you have the right to have repairs done to the property without fear of eviction (these will need to be approved by the landlord).

You especially need permission if you want to redo the toilet, kitchen or add an extension. These things should not completely come out of your pocket and could impact the total amount of rent that you pay to the landlord. You could pay for the whole thing yourself but remember that the landlord owns the property and will gain all the benefits if they choose to sell.

As long as you keep to the terms of the tenancy you will have the right to stay in your home.

Your further rights are:

  • The right to have your property kept in a reasonable state of repair by the landlord
  • The right of your partner, civil partner, or spouse to take over the tenancy if you pass away (the right of succession).
  • The right to not be discriminated against because of your gender reassignment, pregnancy, religion, race, sex, sexual orientation or disability.

What are my Rights as a Short Term Assured Tenant? 

If you have a short term agreement as an assured tenant you will have the right to stay in your property for the fixed term as stated in your tenancy agreement. Again, this can change if your landlord finds justified reasons to serve an eviction notice against you before the fixed term ends. As listed above this could be due to rent disagreements or damage etc.

What are my Rights as a Protected Tenant?

After the Housing Act of 1988, protected tenants are rarely seen. This system offers security, no residential landlord, no services provided (food and accommodation) and a fair rent. This has always been the sturdiest form of agreement as you are given ‘tenure’ meaning you pay rent but they occupy the land that the property is on.

An example of this is a senior citizen living in accommodation with security but they have their own home and can do household things like putting on the washing and entertaining guests.

As a protected tenant you are given rights:

  • Tenure security (the land that they occupy). Your landlord can only repossess the accommodation under certain circumstances.
  • The right to have fixed rent as determined by the rent officer
  • The right to have rent that is increased only in specific circumstances.
  • Have the property kept in a reasonable state of repair
  • If you pass away your family, civil partner or other partner has the right to take over the tenancy.
  • The right to be treated equally regardless of gender, disability, pregnancy, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation.

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