Tenants are tweeting about their worst rental property experiences with the hashtag #VentYourRent, started by Generation Rent to highlight tenants’ issues. These include high rents, vermin, and damp.
Read Rocket Lawyer’s latest blog to find out what you can do as a tenant, if your landlord increases your rent or fails to repair your rental property.
Remember, it’s always important to have a lease agreement in place to set out the terms of your tenancy, to protect you and your landlord.
Which repairs is your landlord responsible for?
- the property’s structure and exterior
- basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary fittings including pipes and drains
- heating and hot water
- gas appliances, pipes, flues and ventilation
- electrical wiring
- any damage they cause by attempting repairs
Landlords are usually responsible for repairing common areas, such as staircases in flats. If you aren’t sure, you can check your tenancy agreement.
As a tenant, you can’t be forced to carry out repairs that your landlord is responsible for and can only do so (if you want to) if your tenancy agreement says you can.
You have to pay for repairs to fix any damage that you cause to another tenants flat, or any damage caused by family and friends.
How do I get my rental property repaired?
Firstly, contact your landlord. This should be done straight away for any damages that could affect your health. Your landlord should give you timescale for when the repairs will be done and you should continue paying your rent whilst you are waiting.
What to do if your landlord hasn’t made the required repairs
Contact the environmental health department at your local council for help. They must take action if they think the problems could harm you or cause a nuisance to others.
My house is unsafe, what do I do?
Contact housing department at your local council. They’ll do a Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) assessment and must take action if they think your home has serious health and safety hazards.
Rent and rent increases
When can my landlord increase my rent?
If you have a periodic tenancy (rolling on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis) your landlord can’t normally increase the rent more than once a year without your agreement.
If you have a fixed-term tenancy (running for a set period) your landlord can only increase the rent if you agree. If you don’t agree, the rent can only be increased when the fixed term ends.
For any tenancy:
- your landlord must get your permission if they want to increase the rent by more than previously agreed
- the rent increase must be fair and realistic, ie in line with average local rents
Ways that your landlord can increase your rent
If the tenancy agreement lays down a procedure for increasing rent, your landlord must stick to this. Otherwise, your landlord can:
- renew your tenancy agreement at the end of the fixed term, but with an increased rent
- agree a rent increase with you and produce a written record of the agreement that you both sign
- use a ‘Landlord’s notice proposing a new rent’ form, which increases the rent after the fixed term has ended
If you pay rent monthly or weekly your landlord must give you at least 1 month’s notice. If you pay yearly 6 months notice is required.
How to dispute a rental increase
If you feel that your rental increase is too much then you can apply to a tribunal who will decide on what a fair rent for the property is. They will look at the market or ‘comparable’ rent payable for similar properties in the area, in order to come to this decision.
You can only apply to the tribunal if:
- you have an assured or assured shorthold tenancy
- your rent’s been increased as part of a ‘section 13 procedure’ – the letter from your landlord will say if it has, and will tell you more about applying to the tribunal
You must apply before the new rent is due to start.
To apply to the tribunal you must fill in and send to the appropriate tribunal a RENTS1 form
You can also apply to the tribunal if you are dissatisfied with the rent payable under the tenancy using a RENTS2 form.
For more information, Ask a lawyer for help with any of the issues raised above.