The law on tenancies tries to balance the rights of both tenants and landlords, to ensure that both groups are fairly treated. At the same time you must make sure to keep to your tenancy agreement to avoid any potential problems which could arise. Each side also has certain responsibilities towards the other.
If you are a tenant, you have the right to:
Have the property you are living in be safe and in good condition
Your landlord is responsible for many of the repairs to the property, and must ensure that it is a safe place for you to live.
Live in the property undisturbed
This means that your landlord cannot bother you continuously while you are living in the property. If they wish to visit the property to carry out repairs or for an inspection, they must give you 24 hours’ notice to do so (or the time frame as set out in your tenancy agreement) and they must arrange to visit at a reasonable time. The only exception is if they need to undertake emergency repairs, in which case they can access the property immediately.
Be aware of who your landlord is
If you are not sure who your landlord is, you can write to the last person to collect your rent to ask. Request the landlord’s full name and address, and be sure to send the letter by recorded delivery and retain a copy. If there is no response within 21 days, this is an offence, and the landlord could face a fine.
Challenge any charges you think are too high
In some properties, you may pay your landlord for the energy you use. If you think you are being charged too much, you have the right to challenge your landlord on this. You can ask them for an explanation of how they work out the charges. If your energy usage is based on a meter, your landlord can only charge you at the domestic rate for the units you have used, plus your share of any standing charge they pay. If there is no meter, they must work out your proportion of the bill fairly and be able to show you how they have done it.
View an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property
An Energy Performance Certificate shows the energy efficiency and typical energy costs for a property. It also suggests how money could be saved and gives the property a rating for its level of energy efficiency. Your landlord or letting agent should show the certificate to you before you rent a property or on the renewal of the same. Since 1 April 2018, all private rental properties have been required to have an energy efficiency rating of “E” or above before a new tenancy is granted or a renewal of a tenancy is undertaken. As of 1 April 2020, all existing tenancies must have an energy efficiency rating of “E” or above.
Protection against unfair eviction and unreasonable rent increases
There are processes that your landlord must follow if they wish to evict you, and if they fail to do so then you can take action against them. They also have to obey certain rules about how much they can increase your rent by, and when.
Have a written agreement for a tenancy of more than three years
In most cases, in England and Wales, you will not have any right to a written copy of the tenancy agreement. However, if you are in a fixed-term tenancy lasting longer than three years, you have the legal entitlement to receive your tenancy agreement in writing. Note that different rules apply in Scotland.
Get a deposit back at the end of the tenancy, and have had it protected
Your landlord cannot keep your deposit or part of your deposit without a good reason, and they must put it in a tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receiving it.
The legal advice in this article was provided by DAS Law, part of the DAS UK Group. This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.