Tenant rights can often seem unclear. Sometimes issues arise between landlords and tenants, which is why it’s important to understand each party’s legal rights in all situations. So, what rights do tenants have when renting in the UK?
- Living in a secure property
- Having access to safety reports
- Tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment
- Property maintenance rights
- Tenant rights and eviction notices
- Challenging rent increase
- Tenant rights and deposit funds
#1 Tenant rights: living in a secure property
Every tenant is legally entitled to live in a property with suitable living conditions. Under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, landlords must ensure that their property:
- Is fit for human habitiation at the time the property is let and when the tenancy begins
- Will be fit for human habitiation throughout the tenancy
This includes having a working oven, hot water and functioning phone ports. Landlords are responsible for having their property ready and safe for occupancy by the specified move-in date on the lease.
If a landlord fails to meet these requirements they are in breach of the tenancy agreement.
#2 Tenant rights to access of gas, electricity and energy efficiency reports
Gas Safety Certificate
Landlords need to arrange a gas safety check every 12 months with a Gas Safe registered engineer. When arranging this, landlords should confirm a suitable time with the tenant first and give them at least 24 hours’ written notice of the visit. Tenants should remember to check the engineer’s Gas Safe ID card when they arrive. This proves that they are Gas Safe registered and shows the type of work they’re qualified to undertake.
Landlords must legally give their tenants a copy of the gas safety report within 28 days of the check. On condition that any issues are specified on the report, the landlord must get them fixed within 28 days.
When a new tenant is moving in, the landlord must give the tenant a copy of the latest gas safety certificate. They should do this before the new tenancy begins. It’s important to check the expiry date on the certificate to ensure it’s valid.
Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
New regulations state that as of April 1st 2021, all rental properties must have a valid Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). An EICR is valid for five years, unless otherwise specified on the report.
The purpose of the inspection is to find any potential fire hazards and identify defective electrical work that needs correcting. Landlords should provide their tenants with a copy of the EICR at the start of a tenancy or after a new EICR is issued. It is within the tenant’s rights to request to see a copy if they have not been shown one.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives detailed information about a property’s energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions. An EPC is carried out by a Domestic Energy Assessor. The assessor performs internal and external inspections to determine how energy efficient a building is.
The EPC rating should be on every property listing advert. If not, tenants have the right to ask their landlord/ or agent for a copy. Landlords lawfully have to give their tenants a copy of the EPC if they request to see it.
#3 A tenant’s legal right to quiet enjoyment
Tenants are entitled to “quiet enjoyment”. This is the right to live in the property without interference from their landlord or letting agent.
Although the landlord owns the rental property, this doesn’t give them the right to access their tenant’s home without their tenant’s agreement. The landlord or letting agent can only gain access to the property at a “reasonable time of the day” after giving the tenant a minimum of 24 hours’ notice in writing.
If a tenant’s landlord/letting agent enters their home without their consent, they’ll be trespassing and in breach of the tenancy. In this instance, the tenant would be able to complain to their local authority. If the landlord/letting agent still turns up without notice, they can be charged with harassment under the Housing Act 1988. They could also face a fine and be ordered by the court to keep away from their tenants home.
The only time a landlord or letting agent can access the rental property without notice is in an emergency, such as a fire, flood or suspected gas leak.
#4 Tenant rights and property maintenance
Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 outlines the repair standards for rental properties. The landlord is responsible for keeping their property safe and secure for their tenant to live in. This includes keeping water supply installations in working order, safe access to gas and electricity, and keeping the exterior of the property in adequate condition.
Tenants are responsible for the general upkeep of their homes, such as changing light bulbs, cleaning and gardening, and fixing any damage caused by them, but not for any major maintenance or repairs.
The tenant has the right to ask their landlord or agent to repair issues that threaten their health and safety. It’s advised to do so as soon as possible. Mid-term inspections are an ideal opportunity for landlords to assess the property’s condition and ask the tenant about maintenance issues.
#5 Tenant rights to eviction notices
In England, landlords must give their tenants at least 2 months’ legal notice of eviction. Most private renters have assured shorthold tenancies. This type of tenancy entitles tenants to a legal notice in writing even if they don’t have a written tenancy agreement.
Landlords can’t evict their tenants during the fixed term of a tenancy unless the tenant breaches the tenancy agreement – or there is a break clause in the contract. This can include not paying their rent or damaging the property.
If a tenant stays beyond the fixed term and rolls onto a periodic tenancy, the landlords can gain possession using a Section 21 notice. This requires at least two months’ notice.
A Section 8 notice can be used for eviction on an assured or assured shorthold tenancy. The landlord would need a legal reason or ‘ground’ to use this type of notice. They would also have to prove the ground at a court hearing. The most common reason for a private landlord to use a Section 8 notice is rent arrears.
#6 Tenant rights and rent increases
Landlords can’t increase the rent without their tenant’s consent. Depending on the type of tenancy, landlords need to follow specific rules if they want their tenants to pay more.
With a fixed-term tenancy, the landlord can’t increase the rent until the fixed-term ends. The landlord also cannot evict their tenant from the property or reduce their rights. The only exception for rent increment is a clause in the tenancy agreement. This clause will state that the amount of rent can be increased.
Once the fixed term has ended, the landlord can renew the tenancy for another fixed term. This will include the updated rent price. The rent needs to be clearly stated in the new tenancy agreement. The tenant will likely be notified of the rent increase when negotiating the tenancy renewal.
With an assured shorthold tenancy or assured tenancy, the landlord has to give their tenant a Section 13 notice to increase the amount of rent. Tenants shouldn’t get a Section 13 notice if they have any other type of tenancy.
The landlord must serve a notice of rent increase. The notice must give their tenant a respectable period of time before coming into place. If the tenancy period is one month, the notice period will also be one month. If the tenant pays the rent annually, the notice period is 6 months.
Tenants can speak to their landlord if they disagree with the rent increase. If they can’t come to an agreement with their landlord, tenants are able to challenge the rent increase. Specifically, as long as the increase request is unreasonable or if the tenant hasn’t yet paid the increased amount. If the tenant and their landlord can’t agree on the rent increase, they can ask a tribunal to decide for them.
#7 Tenant rights and deposit funds
With an assured shorthold tenancy, the tenancy deposit must be registered in a tenancy deposit scheme until the end of the tenancy. The scheme keeps the tenant's money safe. It also ensures the tenant gets back what they're owed at the end of the tenancy.
It is a legal obligation for landlords to provide their tenants with prescribed information within 30 days of receiving the tenancy deposit. The prescribed information includes:
- Details of the deposit amount
- Contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme administrator
- The property address
- The name, address and contact details of the landlord and tenants
It is within the tenant's rights to request to see this information if they have not received it.
Failing to provide prescribed information means landlords can be fined three times the deposit amount. Therefore, they or the letting agent must provide this information to their tenant.
When a tenancy deposit is protected, tenants are legally entitled to receive their deposit back. This should be within 10 days of the end of the tenancy agreement, providing there is no damage to the property or its contents.
Have any questions?
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