Tenants rights

Tenants who rent a privately-owned property have responsibilities but are also entitled to several rights. Make sure you know your rights when moving into a new property or entering into a tenancy agreement with a landlord.

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Right to safety

As a tenant, you have the right to live in a property that’s safe and secure. Safety obligations of the landlord include the following:

  • Gas safety: All gas equipment supplied at the property must be installed and maintained by a competent engineer who is Gas Safe registered, and the landlord must carry out gas safety checks every year. All tenants must be given an up-to-date copy on a gas safety certificate whenever a safety check is done.
  • Electrical safety: All electrical appliances (eg cookers, washing machines, heaters) and equipment must meet safety standards and carry the British Safety Standard sign. The landlord is responsible for removing or replacing any faulty items.
  • Fire safety: Furnishings supplied in the property must meet fire safety standards (eg beds and mattresses, sofas, garden furniture, pillows, duvets, etc). The landlord must remove non-compliant items before the tenant moves into the property.

If the property is in England, all tenants must be given a copy of a current Energy Performance Certificate and gas safety certificate. Tenants must also be given a copy of the government's publication "How to Rent: a checklist for renting in England". If the tenant is not given these documents will make an eviction notice invalid (ie the landlord won't be able to issue a Section 21 (Form 6A) notice in England to repossess the property.

If the property is in Wales, the tenant is entitled to a copy of a gas safety certificate and Energy Performance Certificate.

Right to a house in good repair

Landlords have the obligation to keep the property in a good state of repair. This includes repairing and keeping in good working condition:

  • the common areas;
  • the property’s structure and exterior (eg gutters or drains);
  • sanitary fittings; and
  • appliances and fittings related to the supply of gas, electricity and water (eg pipes, wires, etc).

Right to quiet enjoyment

As a tenant, you are entitled to enjoy the complete benefit of the property without being disturbed by the landlord or by anyone else acting on the landlord’s behalf. This means that your landlord must let you live in your home without unnecessary interference.

A breach of the right to quiet enjoyment could include:

  • preventing the tenant from accessing the property;
  • damaging the property; and
  • accessing the premises without the tenant’s permission.

Landlords have the right to enter the property to carry out inspections and repairs, but unless it is an emergency, they must give the tenant at least 24 hours notice in writing before entering the premises.

Right to deposit protection

Tenants may have to pay a deposit to the landlord before moving into the property. If the tenancy is an assured tenancy, the landlord must put the deposit in a government approved scheme within 30 days from the date it was paid. This applies to tenants both in England and Wales. For further information read Deposit protection schemes.

Failure to protect the deposit or give the prescribed information within 30 days may make the landlord liable for a fine up to 3 times the amount of the deposit. It also makes an eviction notice invalid.

When the tenancy ends, tenants must have their deposit returned within 10 days from agreeing on how much they’ll get back.

What to do if your rights have been violated?

If you believe your rights have been violated, you should first complain to your landlord and try to find an amicable way to resolve the issue. However, if you can’t resolve the problem directly with your landlord, specific actions can be taken depending upon the breach concerned.

If the house isn’t safe

If you think your home is unsafe and your landlord is not respecting their safety obligations, you should contact the housing department at your local council. The housing department will carry out a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) assessment and will be able to take action in the event of serious health and safety hazards.

If repairs aren’t done

If your landlord does not carry out the repairs needed, you should contact the environmental health department of your local council, which will take further action if they think the problems could harm you or cause a nuisance to others.

If the deposit is not protected

Failure to protect the deposit entitles the tenant to make a claim for compensation in court amounting to 1 to 3 times the deposit.

Breach of quiet enjoyment

In case of breach by the landlord of their quiet enjoyment obligation, tenants have the right to take court action against the landlord and ask for damages, in particular if there was a quiet enjoyment covenant in the tenancy agreement. However, depending on the level of nuisance caused, it is always better to try to solve the issue amicably or to contact your local council first.

Ask a lawyer for further information about your rights as a tenant or if you think your rights have been infringed upon.

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