When you enter into an agreement to become a tenant in privately rented accommodation, you gain certain rights and responsibilities. It’s important you understand these tenant rights so you’re protected when it comes to living standards and rent increases.
Tenant rights – explained
Certain tenants’ rights are set out by law in the UK, others are included in the details of your tenancy agreement. This can differ depending on your landlord.
Rights for a private tenant by law include:
- Knowing the identity of your landlord.
- Protection from unjust eviction or rent charges.
- Standard of living.
- Challenging excessive charges.
- Returned and protected deposit.
- Residing in the property undisturbed.
- To see an EPC certificate.
- A written agreement.
Rights and responsibilities included in your tenancy agreement will be different to the legal protections. These may also differ from tenancy to tenancy as depending on the landlord.
Rights and responsibilities for a tenant within a tenancy agreement may include details for:
- Who pays the bills
- How often rent is due
- Rent increases
- Repairs for the property
- Moving out
Rights for a private tenant by law
Knowing the identity of your landlord
As a tenant you have the right to know who your landlord is. Some landlords opt to be anonymous but, if you don’t know who your landlord is, you have the right to request their name and address under section 1 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. To do this, you should write to whoever you pay the rent to. If you don’t receive this information within 21 days, your landlord can be fined.
Protection from unjust eviction or rent charges
When you’re a tenant, having protection by law from unfair evictions and rental charges can be crucial. Depending on your tenancy type, your landlord is obliged to follow certain rules if they want to evict you from the property or increase your rent.
Types of tenancy include:
- Assured shorthold tenancy – this is the most common.
- Excluded tenancies
- Assured tenancies
- Regulated tenancies
It’s important to note your landlord has a legal right to take action to evict you if you don’t meet your responsibilities as a tenant.
Standard of livingYou have the legal right to live in premises that are both safe and in a good state of repair. This means a structurally sound property, free from rot or damage that could be considered significant. You’re also responsible for looking after the property by taking care not to cause any damage and reporting any problems to the landlord in a timely manner.
Returned and protected deposit
If you meet your tenancy agreement terms, you have the right to get your deposit back at the end of the rental period.
And – if your tenancy started after 6 April 2007 your deposit should be protected by a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme.
Challenging excessive chargesWhen you get your deposit back, it’s possible you may be hit with charges that the landlord feels are necessary after inspecting the property. If you feel these charges are excessive as a tenant, you have the right to challenge them. If you disagree with how much of your deposit your landlord has proposed to return, you can use the free dispute service from your tenancy deposit protection scheme.
Residing in the property undisturbedWhile your landlord should be able to gain access to the property in certain circumstances, there are rules they need to follow. Tenants have the right to live undisturbed – that’s why a landlord must:
•Give at least 24 hours’ notice.
•Visit at what’s considered a reasonable time of day (not early in the morning or late at night).
However, allowing your landlord short-notice access in an emergency is a reasonable expectation.
To see an EPC certificate
Landlords aren’t legally allowed to rent out properties with F or G energy ratings – they must have an E rating or higher. That’s why your tenant rights include being able to see the EPC (energy performance certificate) for the property and your landlord has to provide it once it’s been requested.
A written agreement
If you have a tenancy with fixed terms for more than three years, you’re legally entitled to have a written agreement in place. This must be an official binding tenancy deed and the signatures need to be witnessed. So, if you’re looking for a long-term rental option, keep in mind that it’s within your rights as a tenant to have an official deed document in place.
Rights and responsibilities for a tenant within a tenancy agreement
Who pays the bills
Listed within your tenancy agreement will be details about who is responsible for paying the bills for the property. Although this is rare, some landlords list their properties with bills included in the rental price, while others choose to charge the rent and leave the tenant responsible for the bills.
Common bills include:
How often rent is due
The frequency of rent payments also depends on what is stated in the tenancy agreement. Many landlords have mortgages to pay on the property so may ask for the rent before a certain date each month, while others may work together with the tenant to figure out a different arrangement.
Although your landlord can’t simply increase the rent whenever they choose, some types of rental agreements have different rules. With assured shorthold agreements, landlords must follow fixed term and rolling tenancy rules, while assured agreements may have a rent review clause to enable increases. Protected tenants have the right to agree to increases in writing.
Repairs for the property
Your landlord will usually be responsible for most, and certainly major, repairs on the property – but the specifics will depend on your rental agreement. If they’re responsible for making sure repairs are carried out, this should be done in what’s deemed a ‘reasonable’ time period. Often, it’ll be up to you to make minor repairs such as changing lightbulbs and fixing damage you or your visitors caused.
If you decide you’d like to move out of the property, your tenancy agreement should include details for the landlord’s chosen notice period. This will differ depending on the landlord in question. As a tenant, you’re protected by the tenants/rental agreement you signed, and have both the right and responsibility to give the stated period of notice. You should also make sure you’re fully prepared by keeping on top of any admin, like notifying your bank and utility suppliers.
When you’re a tenant, extra protection can give you peace of mind above and beyond the rights you have by law and in your tenancy agreement. Renters insurance can safeguard you in the event of things like floods, theft and water leaks so you’re protected if the worst should happen.
Check out renters insurance from Flow to get a flexible rolling monthly subscription and 24/7 access to your account to make changes as you go.