Your Rights As a Tenant

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Renting a home instead of owning one does not necessarily mean you lose the privileges of a homeowner. The tenancy agreement that you co-sign with your landlord at the start of your rent period can provide you with a concise idea of what your rights and responsibilities are as a renter.

Tenancy agreements are legally binding documents that allow you to reside in a rented home as long as you pay the rent. Written or verbal, these contracts lay out the terms and conditions of your tenure, whether it is an Assured Shorthold (AST) or Assured Tenancy. AST is the more common of the two, as it refers to contracts entered into and agreed to after January 15, 1989. This fixed-term tenancy has the added benefit of being able to terminate the contract by giving at least two months’ notice as long as the tenant’s term ends on that date.

Assured Tenancies are those that started between 15 January 1989 and ended on 27 February 1997. These contracts allow the tenants to stay in the rented home for a longer period without being evicted, unless they fail to pay their rent. 

The tenancy agreement should include, among other things, complete information such as names of both parties, the address of the property being rented out, the start and end of the tenancy, plus the obligations of both landlord and tenant. It must also stipulate the process for ending the contract prematurely and which repairs and bills each is responsible for.

Landlord’s legal obligations and rights

For landlords to be able to rent their properties, they must fulfil obligations set out by the government ensuring tenant health and safety. They should also have insurance for the property and be accountable for structural repairs including those for sanitation, gas, water, and electricity.

Disabled tenants must be provided with the required modifications to make the dwelling easily accessible to them. For fire alerts, the landlord will need to install smoke detectors, which should be connected to the main switch. They cannot, however, alter the locks on the property without first informing you or supplying you with a new set of keys.

Landlords have rights, just like tenants do. They can pay you a visit to collect your rent if you have outstanding payments. If they feel like you have been causing damage to the property, they will give you a 24-hour notice for them to check the condition of the home. Once you end your contract, the belongings that you left in the vacated flat will become their property unless you have an agreement with them regarding the goods. The same goes for when you fail to make payment. 

Tenant’s rights and responsibilities

Apart from providing your landlord access to your home in the event that they need to examine any damage or repairs, it is your job as a tenant to treat the property as if it were your own. You should pay for any damages you cause and report any concerns you encounter as soon as possible.

Rent should still be paid—and on time—even if there are repairs that have not been attended to. If you want to sublet the property, do so only when your landlord agrees to it. If your subtenant causes trouble in the flat, you are the one answerable to your landlord.

You do have a number of rights as a tenant, starting with a fair tenancy agreement. You should know who your landlord is as some properties allow only the letting agent to deal with renters. The deposit you pay your landlord in the beginning of your tenure should be given back to you as soon as your tenancy ends. 

If you believe the rental increase is excessive, you have the right to question your landlord or letting agent. If you pay weekly, they must provide you with a rent book and if your tenancy is longer than three years, don’t forget to request a copy of your written agreement. In case of any trouble, you should be served with a fair eviction notice. This means the eviction is legally sanctioned.

For your safety, landlords are obligated to perform gas safety checks every 12 months. You have the legal right to live in a safe and clean home free from damages or disrepair such as damp, mould, and faulty electrics, among others.

Disrepair in your home  

Older properties often have issues with disrepair. Sometimes, some landlords ignore repair requests, especially if they think the tenant caused all the damage. If your landlord does not address this immediately, do not wait for the issues to worsen. Contact Disrepair Claim and talk to the housing disrepair experts. They can give you advice on what steps to take for your landlord to heed your repair requests.

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