UK tenant’s rights

Boy lying on sofa with TV remote control in hand

Is your landlord turning up uninvited? Threatening you with eviction? Not doing any repairs? We explain what tenant’s rights are in the UK and how to deal with dodgy landlords.

Your right to pay the same rent

Don’t want your rent to keep going up? The government introduced the ‘Renters Reform Bill’ to give you some protection against unreasonable rent increases. Exactly how this works depends on what type of tenancy contract you’re on. Most people will be on an assured shorthold tenancy (or AST), and within that you can also be on a fixed or a periodic contract. We discuss lodger’s rights at the bottom of the article.

Fixed term contract: You have the right to pay the same rent for the whole of the fixed term, unless you agree otherwise with your landlord (which you absolutely do not have to do!). However, after the fixed term contract ends your right to the same rent ends and your landlord can issue a new contract with an updated rent. If the new contract is for another fixed term then once again you have the right to pay whatever new rent you agree to for the length of the new term.

Periodic contract: If you’re on either a weekly or monthly rolling contract your landlord can increase the rent once per year. Your right to pay the same rent lasts for a year following each rent increase.

If your landlord tries to increase the rent

If your landlord tries to put up your rent, then get advice from Citizens Advice Bureau or Shelter about what you can do about it.

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 a fair rent

Thanks to the Renters Reform Bill, landlords can only charge a ‘fair’ market price for rent. This basically means the rent needs to be at the same level as other properties in your area. Check around online on sites like RightMove to figure out what level this is. If your landlord tries to increase your rent above that, you have a solid argument against it and can show them what would be considered fair in the eyes of the law.

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.

No heating or hot water – tenant’s rights

If you have no heating or hot water your tenant’s rights mean that your landlord should take action within 24 hours. Of course, landlords are only responsible for problems they know about, so you should tell them as soon as possible if the boiler breaks. If they don’t take action, then you can contact your local council’s housing authority who have the power to make them do it. You might also be able to claim compensation as this could be seen as a breach of the Landlord & Tenancy Act (1985) and the Fitness for Human Habitation Act (2018).

Read more about what to do if your landlord isn’t doing repairs properly.

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. Read more about tenancy deposits.

Your right not to be harassed

Your landlord can’t harass you or let any other tenants harass you. And they can’t discriminate against you because of your race, religion, sexuality, gender, disability, or anything else.

Read more about discrimination by landlords and landlord harassment.

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

UK landlord rights

Let’s take a look at the other side of this, so you can be sure where you stand. What are UK landlord rights?

Their right to evict you (only if you do something wrong)

Since the government banned section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions, your landlord can only evict you if you have broken your tenancy agreement somehow, for example, by not paying your rent and building up rent arrears. 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 with eviction

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 Civil Mediation Council website.
  • Your local council – your council’s housing department can force your landlord to sort out health and safety issues and do repairs.

Your landlord’s right to a rent increase

Your landlord does have a legal right to increase the rent, but only in certain circumstances:

  • If you’re on a fixed-term tenancy, your landlord can’t put your rent up until the term ends
  • Otherwise they must issue a section 13 (a sort of formal rent increase notice) and they can only do this once per year

Read more about rent increase rules and how much a landlord can increase rent.

If your landlord owes you money

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 landlord’s right to enter your home

As long as you are given notice in writing at least 24 hours before, for example a text or email, your landlord does have the right to enter your home at a ‘reasonable’ time of day. You don’t have to agree to this, but ultimately they do have a right to enter, so you shouldn’t avoid answering them or saying no to reasonable requests. Reasonable requests might include carrying out repairs that are the landlord’s responsibility, a gas safety certificate inspection or showing potential new tenants round.

In emergency situations such as a fire or flood, basically something that could destroy the property, they can enter without permission.

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 to 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 this website instead.

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your rights

By Holly Turner

Updated on 27-Oct-2023