Like almost all relationships, the one you have with your landlord can be complicated at times. Whether you get on like a house on fire, or you’re at each other’s throats like an old married couple, your relationship with your landlord is all about give and take. Your rights and your responsibilities as a private tenant are of equal importance to maintaining good relations with your landlord and minimising the chances of any complicated disputes.
You might be currently in the process of taking up a new tenancy at a house or flat, or maybe you’ve lived there for a couple of years, either way it’s always useful to know what your rights are as a tenant.
By law, anyone renting privately in the UK has the right to:
• live in a property that’s safe and in a good state of repair
• have your deposit returned when the tenancy ends and have it protected
• challenge excessively high charges
• know who your landlord is
• live in the property undisturbed
• see an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
• be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent
• have a written agreement
Many of us will have had the misfortune to rent from a landlord who may not have even come close to meeting these responsibilities (especially in student accommodation). Unfortunately, your opinion over what ‘a good state of repair’ is, what living in a property ‘undisturbed’ entails and just how high ‘excessively high charges’ are, might differ from your landlord’s. However, these rights are yours by law. So if you feel as though your landlord is falling short of any of these requirements then be sure to challenge them.
Services such as Citizens Advice and Lease Advice are extremely useful resources in any disputes that you might have with your landlord. Checking there before you approach your landlord with a dispute about your rights is recommended.
Like we said at the beginning, your relationship with your landlord is give and take, and it works best when both sides meet their responsibilities. So let’s balance this discussion out by identifying what your responsibilities are as a private tenant.
As a private tenant in the UK, you must by Law:
• Give your landlord access to the property for repairs or inspections (24 hours’ notice must be given except in emergency circumstances)
• take good care of the property, e.g. turn off the water at the mains if you’re away in cold weather
• pay the agreed rent, even if repairs are needed or you’re in dispute with your landlord
• pay other charges as agreed with the landlord, e.g. Council Tax or utility bills
• repair or pay for any damage caused by you, your family or friends
• only sublet a property if the tenancy agreement or your landlord allows it
Knowing and meeting these responsibilities is absolutely essential as your landlord is completely with his or her rights to evict you from the premises if you fail to. It’s unlikely that claiming that you were unaware will do you any favours.
Eviction can be a complex and delicate process, so if you’re a landlord or maybe if you’re thinking about renting a property to private tenants in the future, then heading to gov.uk/private-renting-evictions and reading up on the process is highly advisable.
Whichever side of the landlord-tenant relationship you’re on; being clear about your rights and responsibilities is great way to avoid disputes.
Wildings Solicitors are experts in dealing with complex landlord and tenant disputes, head to our Landlord and Tenant page for more information, or contact us today for advice from our Landlord & Tenant team.