What Are Your Rights as a Tenant?
As a tenant who is paying a landlord each month to live in a rented flat or home, you are entitled to certain rights and responsibilities. In some respects, you are the customer who can request things to be a certain way and can expect your accommodation to be a high level of standard. You also have the responsibility to be a good tenant and your behaviour and actions must also be according to the tenancy agreement that you signed.
People typically use bridging finance for the purposes of buy-to-let, so it is important to know what is expected of you as a landlord and how tenants should be acting too.
So, What Are Your Rights?
As a tenant you have the right to:
- Live in a property that is safe and in a good state of repair.
- When the tenancy ends, have your deposit returned to you. In some circumstances, have it protected!
- Challenge high charges and rent increases.
- Know your landlord and who he, she or they are.
- Live in the property, undisturbed to other tenants or third parties.
- Be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent
- Have a written agreement if you have a fixed-term tenancy of more that 3 years
- See an energy performance certificate
If you have a tenancy agreement, it should be fair and comply with the law.
If you find that you do not know who your landlord is, be sure to write to the person, people or company you pay rent to. Your landlord can actually be fined if they do no give you this information within 21 days.
When You Start Your Tenancy Agreement
Once you start a tenancy, whether it be an assured or a short-term assured tenancy, your landlord will be expected by law to give you:
- A copy of the “How to rent guide” if you live in England
- A “tenant information pack” if you live in Scotland
With your rights, come responsibilities when you are a tenant. You are required to give access to your landlord for him or her to be able to inspect the property or carry out any repairs that may need doing. In saying this, there are strict rules that state that your landlord cannot just walk in unannounced. He, she or they have to give you at least 24 hours notice before accessing the property that you are renting (see what are your rights as a landlord).
You Must Always:
- Pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or you are in dispute with your landlord.
- Pay other charges as agreed with your landlord, like, for example, paying council tax and any utility bills.
- Take good care of the property you are renting, for example; do not damage the walls or carpets and think about turning off the water at the mains if you go away during cold weather.
- Repair or pay for any damage caused directly by you or someone you are responsible for when it comes to your home (i.e a friend, family members or a child) – be conscious when having people over to stay, socialise or throwing parties.
- You may only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement states you may, or if your landlord agrees regardless of whether a section on sub-letting features in you tenancy agreement. This could cause huge legal issues if your landlord finds out that you are renting the property to someone else without their permission.
Your landlord has the right to evict you and take legal action against you to do so. He, she or they may only do this with good reasons, such as you do you not meet your responsibilities, but cannot evict unless there is a clear reason or without good notice for you to find another residence.
An assured tenant will not usually have a resident landlord and the landlord will not provide any food or any services. If you are an assured tenant you will be paying rent for the accommodation which you occupy as your principal and only home.
Example of assured tenants include:
- Individual living in a flat
- Family living in a rented home
The following below are not assured tenants because they have a resident landlord and provide food and services:
- A student let (student residence and accommodation)
- A holiday let (hotel, villa, camp, park)
- A company let
- Business premises
- A Crown tenancy
- Private accommodation arranged by the local authority because you are homeless.
Rights of Assured Tenants
If you are an assured tenant, you have the right to remain in the rented property unless the landlord puts forward a good enough case in court as to why they have good reason to want to evict you. Examples of this may include if you are not paying the correct amount of rent and refuse to do so, you damage the property, or any of the terms of the tenancy are broken on your side. Common reasons are being responsible for loud noises or the landlord suspects that there are illegal dealings happening within the premises.
Meanwhile, as an assured tenant you have the right to get repairs done to the property without worrying about being evicted – but usually these will need to be approved by the landlord. Especially if you are looking to redo a bathroom, kitchen or add an extension – this is not something that should come out of your pocket completely and could impact the amount of rent that you pay. Alternatively, you could fit the bill of an extension but of course the landlord owns the property outright and will benefit when they sell it.
You have the right to stay in your home as long as you keep to the terms of the tenancy and other rights you have include:
- the right to have the accommodation kept in a reasonable state of repair by the landlord
- the right of your spouse, civil partner, or other partner to take over the tenancy on your death (‘the right of succession’)
- the right not to be treated fairly, and not discriminated against because of your disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
Rights of Short Term Assured Tenants
As an assured tenant with a short term agreement, you have the right to stay put in your property until the fixed term as stated in your contract ends. This again is unless you landlord find he, she or they are able to convince a court of the reasons for your eviction before the fixed term ends. The reasons will be for the same reasons as listed above, rent disagreements, damage etc.
You may stay on after the ending of the fixed term, even if you do not renew your agreement, until your landlord gives you notice at the end of the term – this is his, her or their responsibility.
As an assured short-term tenant, just like a stranded assured tenant, you have the right to get repairs done without the fear of being evicted for it. Your right are also the same as an assured tenant without a short term loan as listed above.
Rights of Protected Tenants
Protected tenants are rarely seen since the Housing Act 1988 but the system offers security, no residential landlord, a fair rent and no services provided like food or washing. This is the strongest form of a tenant agreement, you are granted ‘tenure’ which means you pay rent but they still occupy the land.
Some examples include senior living in accommodation where there is security but they have their own home and can make food and put on the wash like a regular guest.
As a protected tenant you have rights which are the following :
- Security of tenure (the land they occupy). Your landlord can repossess the accommodation in certain specified circumstances.
- The right to have the rent fixed by the rent officer.
- The right to have rent increased only in particular circumstances.
- The right to have the accommodation kept in a reasonable state or repair – see under heading Repairs.
- The right of your spouse, civil partner, other partner or another family member to take over the tenancy on your death
- The right not to be treated equally and not face discrimination or prejudice because of your disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.