Buy To Let Updated:
Tenants – make sure you know your rights and responsibilities!
With more than 4.4 million households now privately rented, and 3.9 million socially rented, it's more important than ever to be up to date on what is and what isn't acceptable from your landlord.
It should be noted before anything else that the vast majority of landlords are fine and will be very helpful if you have a problem. However, as with all groups, there are some bad eggs...
Studies carried out by housing charity Shelter and market research firm YouGov illustrate that not all is well in the private rented sector:
Whatever your situation, it's advisable to be aware of your rights as a tenant and to do your research carefully so that you don't end up as one of the unlucky number dealing with an unscrupulous landlord.
Make sure you pick your rental property on more than just rent, or how it looks. You should be given an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement – don't just sign it, read it!
If your landlord employs a letting agent, make sure they are registered with the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).
Rogue landlords and letting agents may not be very forthcoming about your rights, so make it your business to know them.
They must have a valid reason, such as doing some maintenance or carrying out an inspection. If your landlord needs to visit, they should arrange a suitable time with you before coming round. They should also provide at least 24 hours' notice.
Your landlord is allowed to raise the rent; however, this is only permitted at certain times. It is also dependent on the type of tenancy agreement you have. On a rolling contract (week-by-week or month-by-month) your landlord cannot normally raise your rent more than once per year without your permission. For a fixed-term tenancy, your landlord can only raise your rent during the term with your agreement. If you don't agree, the rent can't be raised until the end of the term.
If your landlord does raise the rents, it must be fair and in accordance to other rent rates in the local area.
Landlords must make sure that their rented property is a healthy and safe environment for people to live in. This includes:
This protects you if there is some dispute and your landlord doesn't want to give back all your deposit.
They must follow the terms of the tenancy agreement. In some circumstances, such as where there is a dispute, the landlord may need to get a court order. Your landlord cannot force you to leave (for example by entering the property while you are out and packing up your things) as this would most likely constitute an illegal eviction. By the same token, the landlord is not allowed to harass you to leave – again, this would break the law.
As much as we hear about nightmare landlords, there are also tenants from hell. So bear in mind your responsibilities when renting:
Most maintenance and repair is down to the landlord, but some responsibilities are yours. You need to look after the property and not damage it. You need to make sure rubbish is properly disposed of and do some maintenance, such as mowing the lawn (if specified in your agreement), changing light bulbs and replacing batteries in smoke detectors.
Damage you cause may have to be paid for – whether by you during the tenancy, or at the end, as a deduction from your deposit. However, you are not responsible for fair wear and tear, such as wear on a heavy-traffic area of a carpet.
If your landlord is refusing to talk to you, or is denying a problem is their responsibility, you can contact your local council for help. Most have a Tenancy Relations Officer who is a specialist council worker who can mediate in disputes between landlords and tenants.
Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.
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