Tenancy rights can be tricky to get your head around, especially if you weren’t too careful looking over your tenancy agreement before you moved in. (We all skim them initially, don’t worry…)
However, with over 8 million rented properties in the UK, it’s never been more important to know your rights as a tenant.
Shelter estimates that over 200,000 people were threatened with losing their homes in the last year. They were threatened because they asked their landlords about issues. However, it is illegal for your landlord to evict you for raising a valid question and standing up for your rights.
Knowing your rights not only means that you can approach your landlord with more confidence, but that you can be safe. Your landlord must have at least one legal reason in order to lawfully evict you.
The most important part of the tenancy agreement: eviction notice
OK, let’s start with the scary one. Eviction.
When you’re a tenant, it’s easy to feel like your entire living situation is at the mercy of the landlord and whether they like you or not.
Having a good relationship with your landlord is a good idea as it makes your life slightly easier. And, while it is true, a landlord cannot evict you for no good reason or because they simply don’t like you.
Your tenancy agreement will tell you that your landlord needs a legitimate and provable reason to evict you from the property. The landlord must serve you with the correct notification of notice and a court order. If a landlord tries to evict you without these, they’re breaking the law and you can bring a prosecution against your landlord.
Similarly, even if there is a dispute, the landlord will still need a court order to evict you.
In a nutshell, the landlord cannot force, pressure or harass you into leaving the property. All of these instances would be constitute an illegal eviction.
If you’re facing eviction, or want to make sure that you’re protected, check your tenancy agreement and consider speaking to a lawyer.
Tenancy agreements: a few misconceptions
No, your landlord can’t visit the property whenever they like.
To visit your property, they must have a valid reason. Maybe they’re doing maintenance or doing an inspection. Plus, you should get at least 24 hours’ notice and make sure that it’s a suitable time for you. (So, not 6am or 11pm.)
Yes, they can raise the rent, but only in certain circumstances
Yes, your landlord can raise the rent, but only at certain times and under certain conditions. You’re not going to wake up one day and find the rent has gone up £300 a month overnight.
Your landlord can, normally, only raise the rent with your permission. If you’re on a rolling contract, then they can only raise the rent once a year. If you’re on a fixed-term tenancy, then they can raise the rent during the tenancy period, but only if you agree. If you disagree, they can only raise it once your contracted tenancy ends.
The landlord must keep property well-maintained
Legally, your landlord must keep the property in a safe and well-maintained condition. This covers a whole host of things, from preventing against rodent infestations to making sure there’s no damp. Your tenancy agreement (that old thing, again!) will explain everything. But as a quick overview, here are a few things that should your landlord:
• Heating, lighting and ventilation should be in a good, safe condition.
• All gas, water and electrical appliances should be safe and subject to annual checks.
• The house should be in a good condition. (No holes in the walls or carpets, paintwork should be tidy and not chipped, etc…)
• The property should be well-secured.
Your responsibilities as a tenant
To make sure that you’re not liable for damages or eviction, make sure you keep up your end of the bargain. This can include:
• Paying your rent on time every month.
• Not keeping any pets. (Unless otherwise agreed)
• Not causing any damage beyond fair wear and tear.
• General maintenance. (Such as moving the lawn, changing batteries in smoke detectors, cleaning the property)
• Not sub-letting your room without permission
If you’re renting and not seeing eye to eye with your landlord on any issue, or are facing eviction, make sure to seek legal advice.
On a less scary note, renting can be a great living arrangement and most people have a great relationship with their landlord.
However, one downside to renting is that it can feel difficult to decorate and make the place your own without losing your deposit or angering your landlord. If you’re having that problem, take a look at our tips on decorated your rented property without risking your deposit.