KNOWING YOUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES AS A TENANT

INTRODUCTION
As soon as you sign a tenancy agreement and move into a property you are entitled to the ‘quiet enjoyment of the property’. In other words, your landlord cannot turn up at any time they feel like it and invade your privacy. It is a basic tenant right to be given at least 24 hours written notice prior to a visit from the landlord or their representative, except in the case of an emergency.

YOUR RIGHTS AS A TENANT:

You have certain rights and responsibilities if you’re a tenant in privately rented property.

Your basic rights as a tenant are:

A Rent Book (Free Of Charge)

This should include the name and address of the landlord, the rent (and rates if applicable) payable and when it is due and details of any other payments you should make. The landlord must provide this within 28 days of the start date of your tenancy. Your landlord can be fined If they don’t give you this information within 28 days

Your Right To Claim Housing Benefit

All landlords must inform tenants of this right in the rent book. The Housing Benefit for people who rent in the private sector is known as the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair see an Energy Performance Certificate for the property.

Freedom From Harassment And Illegal Eviction

This could include things such as changing the locks, cutting off your water or electricity supply, interfering with your possessions or threatening verbal or physical behaviour. The law offers protection to tenants in these circumstances, always seek advice immediately. The Environmental Health Department of your local council has powers to investigate such actions

Adequate Notice To Quit

All tenants have the right to a minimum of 28 days written notice to quit before any court action to evict can commence. be protected from unfair eviction

Due Process Of Law

If a landlord terminates a tenancy but the tenant refuses to move out, the landlord can only recover possession through court proceedings If you have a tenancy agreement, it should be fair and comply with the law.

 

TENANTS’ RESPONSIBILITIES:

Your tenancy gives you responsibilities. Keep to the rules and don’t break your tenancy agreement.

Pay Your Rent On Time

Rent is usually paid in advance, on a yearly or monthly basis. Check your agreement or ask your landlord when your rent is due.

If you fall behind with the rent, your landlord can take steps to evict you and claim any money you owe them. They must follow the correct legal procedure.

Get advice if you are having problems paying your rent.

Pay Your Bills

You may be responsible for paying your own bills for electricity, gas, water and telephone, as well as paying council tax

If you don’t pay your bills, the services could be cut off. You may have to pay to be reconnected.

Some tenants also have to pay service charges for things like communal cleaning or gardening.

Check your tenancy agreement for more information on this.

Look After Your Home

You have to look after your home and avoid causing damage to it or to your neighbours’ property.

As a tenant, you are responsible for:

not damaging internal decorations, furniture and equipment

not using unsafe appliances

Reporting Repairs To Your Landlord

In most cases, your landlord isn’t responsible for repair work until they know about it, so it’s up to you to tell them about any repairs that are needed.

Reporting repairs is often a condition of your tenancy agreement, so you may have to report any problems even if they seem quite small or if you’re not too concerned about getting them fixed.

 

Your landlord is responsible for repairs and maintenance of the exterior and the structure of the property, as well as the plumbing, wiring and central heating.

Your landlord must also make sure that gas and electrical installations meet safety standards.

WHAT IF YOUR LANDLORD DOESN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT THE REPAIRS?

If your landlord doesn’t do anything after you report the repair, you may decide to take other action. There are several options open to you, some of which are different depending on whether you have a private landlord or a social housing landlord.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU OR A VISITOR CAUSES DAMAGE TO YOUR HOME?

If you or someone visiting your home accidentally or deliberately causes damage, you’ll be responsible for repairing it. You should tell your landlord about the repair work needed. They may agree to do the work themselves and then recharge the cost to you, or they may agree to you fixing it yourself.

If you live in private rented accommodation and you don’t repair the damage, your landlord will probably claim some money out of your tenancy deposit when you move out.

Be Responsible For Your Home And Visitors

The law implies a condition into every tenancy agreement that the tenant must use their home in a ‘tenant-like’ way. This applies whether you have a written or an oral tenancy agreement.

Using your home in a tenant-like way generally means:

doing minor repairs yourself, such as changing fuses and light bulbs

keeping your home reasonably clean

not causing any damage to the property and making sure your visitors don’t cause any damage

using any fixtures and fittings properly, for example, not blocking a toilet by flushing something unsuitable down it.

Your tenancy agreement may also set out some express terms on what your responsibilities are for repairs, for example, that you are responsible for decorating your home.

Your landlord cannot include a term in your agreement that would pass on any of their repair responsibilities to you, for example, that you are responsible for repairs to the roof. This type of term would not have any force in law.

 

Be a good tenant and neighbour. Try not to upset or annoy your neighbours by behaving in an antisocial way or allowing anyone who lives with you or visits you to do so.

You should not behave in an antisocial or aggressive way towards your landlord or anyone employed by your landlord

Your landlord can take steps to legally evict you for antisocial behaviour.

Don’t Leave Your Home Empty

Don’t leave your home empty for long periods.

You could lose your tenancy if: it is no longer your main home you rent out your home to someone else while you are away you don’t pay your rent

Tell your landlord if you are leaving your home for any length of time. For example if you are going into hospital, into prison, or need to stay elsewhere temporarily to care for a partner or relative.

You must keep paying the rent while you are away.

Follow Rules On Smoking

Unless the tenancy agreement says that your property is non-smoking, you are allowed to smoke and allow visitors to smoke in your home.

Smoking is not usually allowed in any parts of the building that are shared with other tenants.

Ask Permission When It’s Needed

You will probably need your landlord’s permission if you want to:

The landlord may have the right to refuse. Check to see what your tenancy agreement says.

Your agreement might also say you need permission for other things, such as keeping a pet, smoking or parking a caravan on the property.

Always put requests to your landlord in writing and keep a copy.

End Your Tenancy Properly

You must end your tenancy properly if you want to move out. You can’t just stop paying the rent, post the keys through the letterbox and walk away.

If you don’t end your tenancy the correct way, you are still liable for rent even if you’re no longer living there.

You must give your landlord the correct notice to end your tenancy. This is usually at least 28 days, if you pay rent weekly, or a month, if you pay your rent monthly. Check your tenancy agreement it may say you have to give more notice.

You can’t give notice if you are still in the fixed term of a tenancy, unless your tenancy agreement says you can.

It is possible to end your tenancy immediately but only if the landlord agrees to this. To avoid any misunderstanding try to get their acceptance in writing.

Give Your Landlord Access When Needed

The law implies a condition into every tenancy agreement that you must give access for repair work. This applies whether you have a written or an oral tenancy agreement.

Your landlord or their agent, has the right to access your home to see what repair work is needed and to carry out the repairs. Unless it’s an emergency, they must give you at least 24 hours’ notice in writing.

If there’s an emergency and your landlord can’t get hold of you, they can force entry if they need to get into your home. For example, a burst pipe in your flat is causing water to leak into the flat below. However, if your landlord does break into your home to deal with an emergency repair, they have to repair any damage caused.

If the repair work is to a communal area such as an entrance hall, your landlord doesn’t have to give you notice to do the work. You must give your landlord access to the property if repairs are needed. Your landlord must give you reasonable notice of this. Although, you have the right to live in your home without unnecessary interference from the landlord.

If your landlord or someone acting on their behalf harasses you or tries to make life difficult for you in your home, they may be committing a criminal offence.

Get advice if your landlord or someone acting on their behalf is harassing you.

EVICTION IF YOU BREAK THE RULES OF YOUR TENANCY

As long as the correct procedure is followed, tenants can be evicted if they don’t follow the rules of their tenancy. Most landlords will need to get a court order.

Keep your housing benefit claim up to date

If you claim housing benefit to help pay your rent, you must keep your claim up to date. If you don’t, you could fall behind with the rent and face eviction.

You must tell the housing benefit department about any changes in your circumstances. They may ask you for information from time to time even if your situation stays the same.

Contact the council if your housing benefit is delayed. The council may be able to give you an interim payment on account while your claim is being processed.

WHAT REPAIR WORK IS YOUR LANDLORD RESPONSIBLE FOR?

Generally, your landlord is responsible for repairing:

the structure and exterior of your home, for example, the walls, roof, foundations, drains, guttering and external pipes, windows and external doors

basins, sinks, baths, toilets and their pipework

water and gas pipes, electrical wiring, water tanks, boilers, radiators, gas fires, fitted electric fires or fitted heaters. Your landlord mustn’t pass the cost of any repair work that is their responsibility on to you.

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