Your rights as a tenant
Is your landlord turning up uninvited? Threatening you with eviction? Not doing any repairs? We explain what your rights are as a tenant and how to deal with dodgy landlords.
Your right to pay the same rent
Don’t want your rent to keep going up? Protection from this depends on what type of contract you’re on. Most people will be on an ‘assured shorthold tenancy‘, and within that you can also be on a fixed or a periodic contract.
If you’re on a fixed term contract, your landlord can’t put up your rent without asking you first – and, let’s face it, you probably won’t say yes. However, they’re entitled to increase the rent if you decide to stay after the fixed term contract ends.
If you’re on a periodic contract (either a weekly or monthly basis) then your landlord can put the rent up without your agreement, but only once a year.
Remember, regardless of the situation, it’s your responsibility to pay your rent – even if your landlord is refusing to fix that dripping tab, or broken towel rail. If you don’t pay for two months your landlord has the right to evict you.
Your right to live in a safe house
It’s your right as a tenant to live in a safe house with hot and cold water, heating, electricity, ventilation, toilet facilities and a drainage system. It’s your landlord’s job to provide these things and do repairs so that it’s safe to live in.
Landlords are only responsible for problems they know about, so ask them to do the repairs first. If they don’t do them, then you can contact your local council’s housing authority who have the power to make them do it. You can find out more about which repairs are their responsibility and which are yours in this article.
Your right not to be disturbed
Your landlord can’t just turn up uninvited. They must give you 24 hours notice before they come over to check the place or do any repairs – unless it’s an emergency. They can’t stop your friends visiting, either.
Your right to have your deposit protected
Your landlord or letting agency can’t simply pocket your deposit – it needs to go into a tenancy deposit protection scheme.
Your right not to be harassed
If your landlord wants you to leave:
- It’s illegal for them to use violence or threaten to use violence
- They cannot offer you money to vacate the premises
- They’re also not allowed to harass you to make you leave by, for example, changing the locks shouting abuse, playing loud music etc
Your landlord’s right to evict you
Your landlord can only evict you if you have broken your tenancy agreement somehow, for example, by not paying your rent. You can check whether they have the right to evict you on the Shelter eviction checker. We also have more information in our article on being evicted.
Where to go for help
If you’re having problems with your landlord there are several places you can go for help.
- Shelter – offer free advice about housing problems, contact them on 0808 800 4444.
- Citizens Advice Bureau – offer free advice about your rights. Go to your nearest centre, or call on 08444 111 444 (England), 08444 77 2020 in Wales, and 0808 800 9060 in Scotland.
- Mediation service – offer an impartial person to help resolve your arguments. You have to pay, but it’s cheaper than taking your landlord to court. You can find your nearest mediation service on the Ministry of Justice website.
- Your local council – your council’s housing department can force your landlord to sort out health and safety issues and do repairs.
If your problem with your landlord involves them owing you money you can take them to the small claims court to get it back. This can be expensive though, and it can take ages. So get advice from Shelter or CAB before filling in the claim form.
Your rights as a lodger
When you live in the same accommodation as your landlord, be it private or a B&B, you have fewer rights. They generally depend on what you’ve agreed with your landlord. They don’t have to apply for a court order to evict you, and the notice period can be as little as seven days.
When living as a lodger you don’t need to have a written agreement for the terms of your stay at the property. However, it’s best to agree one with your landlord anyway to protect you from misunderstandings.
This agreement should include:
- How much rent you need to pay and when you should pay it
- How much notice you’ll be given if they’re increasing the rent
- How much notice you have to give before moving out
- What services are provided and which you have to pay for, for example, meals and laundry
- Whether you can have guests in your room and if there are restrictions on how long they can stay
- If your room is exclusively yours and if you can lock it
- If you have to pay a deposit for the room and if you can get it back when you leave
- Shelter's advice website for young people offers help with housing problems and a free helpline 0808 800 4444. If you're in Scotland, use http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/ instead.
- Moving out for the first time? Get the real Home Truths.
- Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
- Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.
Updated on 29-Sep-2015
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Ornella moved to the UK from her home in Belgium
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